The house released a statement after its second runway show, saying Lagerfeld “was feeling tired.” Chanel staged two couture shows in the Grand Palais on Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. Lagerfeld’s no-show marked the first time in decades that he did not take a bow after a runway show. The designer is known to particularly enjoy receiving an ovation after staging a catwalk show for any of the three houses where he is creative director: Chanel, Fendi and his signature brand Karl Lagerfeld. In a rapidly moving fashion news cycle, Chanel initially said he would attend the second runway show. They even had his ace DJ, Michel Gaubert, announce precisely that at the 10 a.m. show, insisting that Monsieur Lagerfeld would definitely appear at the second show. However, in the end, Karl did not show up at either event, where the Grand Palais was revamped as a Mediterranean villa and estate.
Eventually, after the second Chanel show, the house issued the following statement: “Chanel presented its Spring-Summer 2019 Haute Couture collection this morning at the Grand Palais, in a Mediterranean garden setting. The collection, designed by Karl Lagerfeld, is inspired by his favourite period, the eighteenth century. For the traditional greeting at the end of the show, Mr Lagerfeld, artistic director of Chanel, who was feeling tired, asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him and greet the guests alongside the bride. Virginie Viard as creative studio director and Eric Pfrunder as Chanel’s director of image continue to work with him and follow through with the brand’s collections and image campaigns.” Ever since January 2018, when Lagerfeld began appearing in public with a beard, there has been considerable speculation about his health. Though mentally as whip sharp, with the fastest tongue on Continental Europe since Oscar Wilde, Lagerfeld has increasingly walked with a hesitant step after each successive runway show. At 10 a.m., even as Gaubert was making his announcement, Chanel’s owners, the brothers Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, were discreetly exiting the show, after watching quietly from a wall in the Chanel garden within the Grand Palais. In the fall-out, after the second show, the fashion rumor mill went into overdrive. At lunch in the Ritz, where Chanel staged a dinner for international high-end jewellery clients on Sunday night, clients dressed head to toe in Chanel were talking about a Chanel succession. Some guests suggested his retirement was imminent.