27 Feb 2019

Gott Ist Tot

Paul Cardwell writes in Creative Review on how brands recover after the death of a legend.


So, Karl Lagerfeld is gone.

He will be much mourned, but not much missed. He was a mixed blessing: nobody liked him but everybody loved him.

And that’s the way he wanted it – he loved the contradiction, he had created it after all, and somewhere he is laughing aloud as we all scrabble to find the right, the polite, thing to say. He never cared about being polite. That was for little people.

He leaves a massive hole in the house of Chanel. (I’m afraid I believe that’s what he’d have wanted. “Apres moi, la deluge” as another, more modest, Sun King is rumoured to have said.)

©Creative Review

So what do you do when a great brand is built on a great personality who then, perhaps to their own amazement, turns out to be human after all?

There are two perfect examples in London right now. One is an exhibition, the other a show.

At the V&A Dior – Designer of Dreams surveys the great fashion house over the last 80 years, since it was founded in 1947.

But, in spite of the title, there’s not much Dior there. Because he died, totally unexpectedly, in 1957, only ten years after the house was started. (It was very sudden. The official reason is a heart attack. The family blames a fishbone. The louche Baron de Rede blamed “strenuous sexual activity”, and he knew what he was talking about. Perhaps it was some very French combination of the two.)

First published in Creative Review.