It’s an object of surprise and wonder: This limited-edition Chanel black plexiglass minaudière, offered by Valois Vintage Paris, is shaped like an egg carton but opens to become a jewelry box, with each of its six ivory “eggshells” cushioned to hold a ring. Not quite luxury, perhaps, but it does have the wit and whimsy of Karl Lagerfeld, who helmed Chanel from 1983 until his death, in 2019. “A sense of humor and a little lack of respect,” he once said, “that’s what you need to make a legend survive.”
Fans will recognize this unexpected pairing of fancy and function from the 2014–15 Fall/Winter ready-to-wear runway show, which transformed Paris’s Grand Palais into a nearly 140,000-square-foot labyrinthine megastore, its shelves filled with Chanel-branded supermarket and home goods ranging from Coco Chanel Coco Puffs to a chain saw with a real Chanel chain. The event left critics enchanted and A-list guests with looted goods attempting to circumvent security. Both a celebration and a satire of consumer culture, it was described by a New York Times journalist as a merging of high and low unequaled “since Marie Antoinette played milkmaid on her farm at Versailles.”
Behind his dark glasses, how Lagerfeld’s eyes must have sparkled. The prolific designer’s creative process will be explored in the Met Costume Institute’s spring 2023 exhibition “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” Even a man who detested looking back would agree it’s time for such a retrospective. “My past should only be addressed the minute I’m not part of it anymore,” he told Vanity Fair in 1992. Humor and a little lack of respect. Legend.