A man of an orchestra, Karl Lagerfeld has masterfully led the Chanel, Fendi houses, and his own brand. A look back at more than sixty years of a creative genius’ career.
A great chapter in the history of fashion is turning. Creator of the Chanel and Fendi collections, couturier endowed with flawless creativity and touches on everything with infinite skills, Karl Lagerfeld, a true visionary, knew how to prophesy the timeless. He died Tuesday, February 19, 2019, at the presumed age of 85. The cause of his death has not been released.
During the Chanel Haute Couture show held in January 2019, the artistic director had caused great concern by not coming to greet the public at the end of the presentation. If the Parisian house had wanted to be reassuring, invoking temporary fatigue, rumors about the creator’s state of health were going well.
In a press release on February 2, 2018, Bruno Pavelski, President of Chanel Fashion Activities said: “Karl Lagerfeld has written an essential page of the legend of Gabrielle Chanel and the Maison Chanel, fashion show after fashion show, collection after collection. Through his creations, he never stopped sublimating the exceptional know-how of the workshops of Chanel and its Crafts. The greatest tribute we can pay him today is to follow the path he has traced by – I quote – continuing to embrace the present and invent the future. “
On the side of Fendi, the house with which he has been collaborating since 1965, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Creative Director for the Man, Accessories and Child collections, paid tribute to a model: “Karl Lagerfeld was my mentor and my point of reference. A look was enough to understand each other. For Fendi and myself, Karl’s creative genius was and will always be our guide and light, shaping the DNA of the House. He will be deeply missed and I will always take my memories with me today together.”
Back On An Extraordinary Journey
A Promising Young Designer
Born on September 10, 1933, in Hamburg, Karl Otto Lagerfeld, whose real name is, is the son of Elisabeth Lagerfeld and the wealthy businessman Otto Lagerfeld. Faced with the rise of Nazism, his family left Hamburg to take refuge in the area of Bessemeror, a property located near Bad Bramstedt, further north of Germany. After the war, the young Karl, then about ten years old, already began to take an interest in fashion. And, from the age of 14, he felt the desire to move alone to Paris.
Once installed in the French capital in 1953, Karl Lagerfeld wasted no time in proving himself. After a year, he won first prize in the “International Wool Secretariat” competition in the coat category, tied with a certain Yves Saint Laurent who triumphed in the dress category. The designer Pierre Balmain, who was then part of the jury, noticed him and recruited him as an assistant. After three years at Balmain, the young designer left for Jean Patou, to design the haute couture collections.
In 1963, he resigned to work as a freelance designer and began selling his creations in Italy, Japan, Germany, and France. Two years later, Karl Lagerfeld joined the Fendi house as creative director. There, he revolutionized the vans of the Italian brand and reinvented the label’s double logo. Always loyal to the job, their collaboration breaks records for longevity in the transient fashion world. The following year, the designer was also acclaimed by the house of Chloé in order to rejuvenate the image of the brand.
The Resumption Of The Chanel Style In 1983
In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld’s career accelerated when he became the creative director of Chanel’s haute couture and ready-to-wear lines. Twelve years after the death of the eponymous Coco Chanel, when the house was on the verge of bankruptcy, Karl Lagerfeld then began to squander his stylistic heritage, as the collections went by. His stylistic codes will thus be updated: the tailored tweed suits are getting shorter, the two-tone cashmere cardigans sport acidulous colors and the little black dresses are slit with the help of an excessive chain.
Combining stylistic antinomies with a master’s hand, the couturier’s creations for the Chanel house are a majestic blend of chic and casualness but also of decency and exuberance for a classic style with a revolutionary allure.
The success is phenomenal, propelling the brand to the top of the fashion sphere while inducting Karl Lagerfeld the most famous designer of our time and this, internationally.
A Multifaceted Genius
To consolidate his empire, Karl Lagerfeld created his eponymous house in 1984 . Over the years, his notoriety has grown to such an extent that everyone now recognizes his opalescent hair, his eyes darkened by sunglasses, his hands covered with shiny mittens, and above all his caustic eloquence where each sentence provokes a detonation. It must be said that the creator is fluent in German, French, and English which he charges with acceleration and sudden braking! But behind this eccentric character, hides a singular personality, whose choices surprise.
In 1999, the designer inaugurated the 7L bookstore at 7 rue de Lille in Paris, selling marketed versions of rare art, international magazines, books on photography, fashion, painting, and design. A real workaholic, he decided to create in 2004 a capsule collection of 30 exclusive items for the giant of fast-fashion H&M. A great first for the time!
What all these collaborations prove is the creative hyperactivity of Karl Lagerfeld. Like his pencil stroke, his vision is fast, precise.
With his inexhaustible inventiveness, his propensity to always be ahead of his time, and his unique personality, Karl Lagerfeld has definitely entered the legend of contemporary fashion. And nobody will be able to dispute the fact, that in sixty years of career, his stylistic contribution was more than gigantic.