The death of Karl Lagerfeld earlier in 2019 hit the fashion industry hard. Karl Lagerfeld was the creative director for the fashion house Chanel from 1983, up until his death on the 19th February 2019. Lagerfeld was also the creative director for Fendi. Karl Lagerfeld was renowned for his signature look; a low pony tail, black suit and dark, black glasses. Karl Lagerfeld was iconic in the fashion world.
Karl Otto Lagerfeld was born in September 1933 in Hamburg, Germany, although comically, Lagerfeld was known to lie about the year he was born, painting himself as younger than he really was. He publicly announced that he was to be celebrating his 70th birthday back in 2008, despite actually turning 75. Lagerfeld really wan’t here for growing old! Lagerfeld was known to have an interest in visual arts from a very young age and was constantly drawing, he was clearly meant to be in the fashion industry from birth.
Lagerfeld started his career in fashion like so many others. From the bottom. He entered a coat design competition in Paris in 1955 and won the competition. This led to him befriending Yves Saint Laurent and being hired by Balmain to be his assistant and apprentice. Everyone has to start somewhere. Later in 1958, Lagerfeld went on to becoming the artistic director for Jean Patou and designing freelance for a wide range of brands.
All of Lagerfeld’s hard work over the last few years would pay off in the 1980s, when he was hired by Chanel, which at the time was considered a brand which was close to death, following the passing of the brand’s founder, Coco Chanel. Lagerfeld managed to save the dying brand by revamping its image and created the iconic Chanel logo we all know so well today!
In 1984 Lagerfeld embraced his innovative style and created his own fashion brand, aptly named, KARL LAGERFELD, whilst continuing his work with both Chanel and Fendi.
Lagerfeld has since collaborated with a variety of fashion brands in order to keep them relevant and keep the fashion industry talking, one of which being Diesel, where Lagerfeld and Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel created a special denim collection, especially for the Lagerfeld gallery.
In 2002, Lagerfeld’s iconic look was born. After losing a lot of weight, which Lagerfeld credited to him “suddenly wanting to dress differently”. Lagerfeld lost a massive 93 pounds in just 13 months! The next time Lagerfeld was seen in public following his weightless, he had adopted his signature white hair low ponytail, which has become synonymous with the name Karl Lagerfeld today.
Karl Lagerfeld faced huge backlash for his use of the Qur’an back in the 1994 Chanel couture collection. Despite the designer and fashion house apologising for their poor judgement, a mistake like that can be hard to come back from.
Lagerfeld was known for his wide use of real fur within the fashion industry, despite Lagerfeld himself not wearing real fur and rarely eating meat. However, Lagerfeld switched to the use of fake fur in his Chanel collection in 2010, much to the satisfaction of so many of us!
Lagerfeld stated in 2007 that his controversial persona was just that, an act. Could this all have been something to enhance his image (for better or for worse)??
Although Lagerfeld had his controversies, we can’t deny that without him and his, at the time, innovative and avant-garde approach to fashion and the visual arts, the fashion industry would not be the same or in the same place it is today. If nothing else, the huge name Chanel has made for itself might even cease to exist.