Say au revoir to the little Chanel suit.

The announcement yesterday that Karl Lagerfeld will become the designer for the Chanel haute couture collection means it is unlikely that the familiar Chanel suits will be included in future Chanel couture collections, though others will continue to interpret the classic suit originated by the late Coco Chanel.

The announcement from Chanel in Paris "that starting in January the haute couture will benefit from the artistic orientation of Karl Lagerfeld" confirms rumors that have circulated in Paris for more than a year. While Paris' most independent and influential designer and the staid fashion house seem an unlikely match, both parties were ripe for drastic change. Lagerfeld has been quick to let friends know he was unhappy with his association with the management of the house of Chloe', where he has been the designer for almost 20 years. Lagerfeld was particularly provoked when an advertisement appeared earlier this year in a fashion publication listing Chloe' but not mentioning the designer.

At the couture showings in Paris in July, Chanel released a statement saying this was the last collection of Chanel couture by its current designers, signaling that the house was making a change in its fashion direction. Last April was the last collection for Philippe Guibourge, who has designed the Chanel ready-to-wear for five years. Yesterday's announcement also indicated that Herve Leger will design the next ready-to-wear collection, assisted by Eva Compocasso and Marianne Oudin. Frances Stein, a former assistant to Calvin Klein, will continue to design the accessories, the announcement said.

Lagerfeld, who also designs the Fendi fur collection in Rome, has been responsible for many current trends in fashion, including the wide-belted waist, the long slim skirt and the uneven hemline. "We chose him because he is the most creative designer," said a spokeswoman for the house of Chanel, "but also because of his great respect for Mademoiselle Chanel."