When Karl Lagerfeld took over the Maison Chanel in 1983, its founder, Coco Chanel, had been dead for twelve years, and the iconic brand was foundering. Once the epitome of French glamour, history, and feminine luxury, the house was rapidly losing prestige and relevance. Lagerfeld revived the brand through a complex reinterpretation of its iconography, its founder’s persona, and especially its relationship to French identity and patrimoine culturel—cultural patrimony. His reign at Chanel amounted to a de facto commentary on nationality, personality, style, and gender, demonstrating how history and politics get filtered and expressed through fashion.

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