The Contour of Luxury Summer 2019 - Page 475

Alain and Gerard Wertheimer are the third generation to run the almost 110-year-old company. Alain is the chairman of Chanel while Gerard directs the company’s watch division. Their wealth is predominately inherited due to their grandfather’s possession of Chanel but has flourished over the years through business deals and acquisitions from retail to wine to horse-racing. The brothers are known for not being well-known at all; they are a very discreet family—for which they have reason to be. When it comes to Chanel, they do not comment about the business, and if they ever attend a Chanel fashion show, which rarely happens, they sit in the third or fourth row to remain in the shadows, so to speak, and they do not converse with the press regarding their brand. Alain and Gerard hired Karl Lagerfeld as creative director for Chanel’s fashion division in 1983, a position he held for over thirty years until his death in February 2019. This position illustrated Karl as a more prominent figure in Chanel than the Wertheimers, who prefer to stay out of the spotlight They also do not make appearances at store openings for Chanel. Doing so would often be profitable for the business, but that is not the way the Wertheimers want to run their family business. In 2002, Gerard Wertheimer told The New York Times Magazine, “It’s about Coco Chanel. It’s about Karl [Lagerfeld]. It’s about everyone who works and creates at Chanel. It is not about the Wertheimers.”.