Next month’s Cruise show in Cuba just might be Karl Lagerfeld’s final outing for Chanel. According to the New York Post, a friend of Lagerfeld, 82, noted that the creative director is “really tired.” This unnamed source continued on to say, “He’s not doing well and he’s ready to stop.” Rumors have been swirling for months, particularly given the somewhat retrospective nature of the house’s Fall/Winter 2016 runway show, that Lagerfeld might be on his way out after joining the famed Paris-based house in 1983. His rumored replacement? Hedi Slimane, who very recently left his position as creative director of Saint Laurent.
Just how likely is it that German-born, Paris-based Lagerfeld, who also oversees the creative direction of Italian design house Fendi, is leaving? From statements he has made in recent years (think: “Why should I stop working? If I do, I’ll die and it’ll all be finished,” as he told Vogue in 2012) and insider speculation, it seems unlikely.
However, the talk of Slimane entering the picture in order to be groomed to replace Lagerfeld come his decision to retire or otherwise seems merited. This makes sense, in theory, as Lagerfeld is not getting any younger, and the house – which shows six collections per year and which reported 2014 revenue of $7.5 billion and net income of $1.4 billion – needs to have a back up plan. Given Lagerfeld’s reported respect for Slimane’s design sensibilities (he did, after all, famously shed more than 90 pounds to squeeze into one of Slimane’s skinny Dior Homme suit), the replacement talk may not be completely unmerited.
UPDATE (4/20/16): According to a statement from Chanel: “The rumours about Mr Lagerfeld discontinuing the collections and the cruise collection show in Cuba being the last are unsubstantiated.”