Mademoiselle’s favourite pearls turn up, outsized, as little evening bags; tweed is transformed into fluffy leggings and matching berets; a love of the sporty, outdoors life is expressed via Chanel-branded snowboards and surfboards. At Chanel, Lagerfeld heads up one of Paris’ few remaining haute couture salons; in July 2002 the company, which is owned by the Wertheimer family, secured the future of its couture business by acquiring five specialist workshops, including Lesage, the prestigious embroidery company.
Chanel is today nothing if not a commercial powerhouse and in December 2004 the company opened a multi-floored new store in the Ginza shopping district of Tokyo that includes a restaurant, Beige Tokyo, and a glassy facade fitted with twinkling lights that resemble the brand’s famous tweed. In May 2005 the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York opened an exhibition devoted to Chanel’s historic innovations, featuring designs by both the house founder and its present incumbent. Despite this grand heritage, what Coco and Lagerfeld have in common above all is relish for the present times and for the future. As Chanel herself once said, “I am neither in the past nor avantgarde. My style follows life.”