Karl Lagerfeld continues to reinvent with Once and Forever

By Kenneth Richard | The Impressionist

While there is plenty of fashion in film and a plethora of ‘fashion’ films, most of it resembles the thinness of a page torn from a glossy, touching fashion only on a surface level. With his latest Magnum opus, ‘Once and Forever,’ Karl Lagerfeld delves deep to show that fashion has more complexity than meets the eye.

The 11-minute film is a movie about the making of a movie, with Kristen Stewart playing an actress preparing for the role of the young Coco Chanel in a biopic. She stars alongside Geraldine Chaplin, who plays the elderly Chanel, representing the image the public came to adopt of the late designer.

Within the story, the film’s original director has been replaced with an untested French director who now has to deal with Stewart’s condescending and difficult attitude. Stewart is supposed to be playing a moment in Coco’s life when she took a lover who was later never mentioned in any of her biographies. The actress goes through costumed screen tests while undermining the director, antagonizing the producer, mocking several actors, snubbing the press, and alienating her fellow cast.

And that is where the genius in the film lies – as Lagerfeld embraces flawed characters who, in fact, may be portraying flawed people. He recognizes that he is not only a brander projecting the spirit of Chanel, but an entertainer serving an intelligent audience with little interest in another surface level fashion film.

As the film closes, the Chanel portrayed by Chaplin is playfully saying into the mirror, “I am Coco Chanel.” She actually represents most of what the general public knows of the designer. Which the younger actress comes to realize is true, embracing her co-star and adding, “Always and Forever.” The Impression can’t help but think that this scene was the punchline the entire piece was crafted around. The admittance that the ‘difficult and complex’ embraced the ‘ideal’ persona, knowing full well that she represents the surface level the general public needed while fashion would understand there is more beneath.

It is a pleasure to know that there is more behind the man in Lagerfeld, who at the top of his game continues to understand risk reward, Once and Forever.


Director/ Creative Director | Karl Lagerfeld
Actors |  Kristen Stewart, Geraldine Chaplin, Jeremie Elkaim, Francois Marthouret, Jamie Bochert, Baptiste Giabiconi, Jake Davies, & Laura Brown
Director of Photography | Xavier Arias
Production Designer | Stefan Lubrina
Editor | Nicolas Bancilhon
Chanel Image Director | Éric Pfrunder, Katherine Marre
Executive Producer | Walter Films
Head Costume Set | Lella Smara
Hair | Sam McKnight
Makeup | Tom Pecheux
Manicurist | Anny Errandonéa