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Who could succeed Karl Lagerfeld in Chanel

Big shoes to fill: Who could succeed Karl Lagerfeld in Chanel?

Known for its iconic bouclé jacket and exquisitely classy style, Chanel is one of the biggest, oldest and most influential fashion houses there are. Brought to life by Coco Chanel in the 20s the brand managed to stay ahead of time by showcasing groundbreaking designs throughout.

Ostentatious fashion show settings (from airport to supermarket) and an A-list front row are always given at any Chanel show may it be a couture, ready-to-wear or cruise presentation. But if it wouldn't have been for Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel might as well be gone from the fashion radar by now. With his drive and a new vision for the brand, Lagerfeld managed to breathe new life into the stagnating French fashion house and helped bring it to a new glory.

Ultimately, Lagerfeld knew from experience how to capture the audience and make it take notice of a collection. He proved this as creative director at Fendi, where he had been working for many years before starting at Chanel, and his work at Chloe. It didn't hurt that he counted Yves Saint Laurent and other fashion influencers among his friends and therefore generated a new audience for Chanel.

Major fashion houses have made changes in the past couple of years and exchanged creative directors. Raf Simons taking over at Dior in 2012 (and now leaving it in 2016, to possibly take over at Calvin Klein), Hedi Slimane bringing a new direction to Yves Saint Laurent, complete with a name change, and Jeremy Scott transforming Moschino into one of the most sought after and social media hyped brands of the past years.

Alexander Wang

Now, it's unsure if King Karl will ever step down at Chanel (we hope not!) but if he indeed intends to do so, his successor has to be someone who can do what Karl did: break boundaries, set trends, reinvent the brand over and over again and keep up with Chanel's history. Therefore, it's not easy to imagine someone being this daring, but we found two pretty good candidates.

Alexander Wang

After testing the Paris Haute Couture waters at Balenciaga, Wang could be a possible candidate to take over the reign at Chanel. His innovative designs could bring a new influence to Chanel, making it even more modern and current. Furthermore, Wang understands today's fashion scene. He is well acquainted with the newest techniques and, just like Karl Lagerfeld, doesn't fear to push the boundaries.

Another point for Wang is his group of customers and famous friends. Kate Moss, Cara Delevingne, Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West are supporters of Wang. A crowd that goes through as today's major influencers, especially in the social media world. Having those influencers as your main customer base can have a huge impact on your success, and therefore the success of the brand you are working for. 

Last but not least, Wang shares a common design history with Karl Lagerfeld - both designed collections for fashion chain H&M. Both of them wildly successful. This proves that Alexander Wang understands as well as Karl Lagerfeld what it takes to generate a fan base that is out to get the designs, no matter what.

Prabal Gurung

Their mutual love for a wildly original fashion show setting is what makes Wang a good choice to possibly take over at Chanel and get his second shot at Paris' fashion scene.

Ever since Nepalese designer Prabal Gurung launched his first eponymous collection in 2009 he has become the darling of the fashion industry. But it was his spring/summer 2013 collection that catapulted him into superstardom. Gurung understands how to combine sophisticated silhouettes with sportswear, put it in one collection and make it look like the two of them are just supposed to go hand in hand. His way with prints, especially floral, is unique and the way he drapes his fabrics really shows his talent.

That's why he would be perfect at Chanel.

Also, his collections deal with current topics such as the empowerment of women in his F/W 2013 collection where he showcased military-inspired designs and leather corsets as well as body armor. His heritage, Nepal, is present in his latest collection where he showed vibrantly colors reminiscent of the robes of Nepalese monks. Just like Karl Lagerfeld (for example with his staging of a protest) he responds to current events with his collections.

His customers include First Lady Michelle Obama and The Dutchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, who have both worn his designs on numerous official occasions, Jennifer Lawrence, who wore Gurung's iconic gold dress to the premiere of the Hunger Games movie, and celebrities such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Zoe Saldana.

His audience as well as his ability to meticulously tailor dresses, pants and blouses makes him a perfect candidate in case Karl Lagerfeld intends to step down at Chanel at some point.

By Elena Reudenbach