PARIS • There were plenty of models at the Chanel shows, but where was Karl Lagerfeld?
The label later explained his absence on Tuesday from two haute couture outings in Paris, saying the veteran designer "was tired".
The 85-year-old left his studio head Virginie Viard to take the bow for him at the end of his spring-summer collection.
The no-show set off talk that Lagerfeld, who has ruled over fashion for a large part of the past halfcentury, may be about to take a step back.
With fashionistas expecting the traditional theatrical reveal at the end of the show, with Lagerfeld appearing somewhere on the extravagant set, a Chanel executive emerged in his stead to announce the couturier's absence.
He said Lagerfeld would be at a second show for super-rich clientele. But a Chanel spokesman later told Agence France-Presse the designer was not able to attend that event either.
Ms Helene Guillaume, a journalist with French daily Le Figaro, said Lagerfeld was "very weak" at a pre-show briefing on Monday.
Executives said he never made it as far as the Grand Palais where his collection was to be shown on a vast palm tree-fringed set styled after the gardens of an Italian villa.
Lagerfeld, who in 2015 said that he "has never thought of retiring", is understood to have carte blanche from Chanel's owners to choose when he wants to step down.
In recent years, he has visibly weakened, but his extraordinary creative stamina showed little sign of flagging, with a joyously zingy beach-set collection that was one of the highlights of the previous Paris fashion week.
His new show, which the brand insisted he drew himself, took inspiration from "his favourite century, the 18th".