Yesterday the world lost a legend: Karl Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld was a fashion icon, a legend among his peers, and a house-hold name, even outside the industry. Whether you know it or not, odds are very high, his legacy has had an impact on you. His work, drive, and perfection became the standard that all fashion followed. Lagerfeld designed for top fashion houses Fendi and Chanel (including his own namesake line), but his aesthetic and creativity was constantly filtered down to more accessible labels like Zara and Club Monaco. He continued to push boundaries. He was one of the first to collaborate with a fast-fashion retailer, H&M.
Karl Lagerfeld was born on September 13, 1933 in Hamburg, Germany. After finishing his primary schooling at a private school in Germany, he moved to Paris to attend secondary school at the Lycée Montaigne (majoring in drawing and history). In 1955, at age sixteen, Karl entered the International Wool Secretariat (coat design) competition. He won and was later hired by Pierre Balmain. Lagerfeld then went on to design for various houses such as Jean Patou, Tiziano, Chloé, Charles Jourdan, Krizia, and Valentino.
In 1967, he was hired by Fendi. In 1983 Karl Lagerfeld was hired by Chanel to revamp the dying house. At Chanel, Lagerful made many iconic, landmark innovations. One of the most famous thing Lagerfeld did was arrange of the Coco Chanel initials to create the reflected, interlocking CC logo. In 1984, Lagerfeld started his own line. His genius did not come out in his designs alone, but we his brilliance in his marketing choices. Karl Lagerfeld launched the careers of many famous models including Claudia Schiffer. In 2012, Karl used Brat Pritt as the first male face to sell the iconic Chanel no. 5 perfume. In his own Karl Lagerfeld stores, he would purchase t-shirts, dolls, and novelty items from other designers. HIs willingness to showcase new talent at his own store launched many careers.
You can read about this enigmatic genius and his contemporary context in Alicia Drake’s, The Beautiful Fall. Lagerfeld’s life will read more scandalous and scathing than any contemporary reality TV or soap opera. Legends are made and not born. We hope you appreciated taking some time to learn a bit about one of the most important fashion designers of our lifetime. I predict Lagerfeld will be the focus of the next fashion exhibit at the Metropolitan.