Karl Lagerfeld (1933-2019): an overview

February 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Fashion, Featured Items

Today we lost a true fashion legend, a visionary, a genius, an icon. Aged 85 Karl Lagerfeld died in a Paris hospital. The cause of his death is not yet known.

PHOTO © 2018 TEAM PETER STIGTER FILENAME IS DESIGNER NAME SPRING/SUMMER 2019

Karl, or Kaiser Karl, is best known for his creative director function at Chanel at which he started in 1983 (after having worked for Balmain (1955) and after making a name for himself designing poetic party dresses at Chloé (1963)). In the decades that followed since his arrival at the luxury fashion house he managed to turn the brand into one of the most iconic labels in the world. Chanel even contracted him ‘designer for life’. His over the top, million dollar fashion shows at the Grand Palais (turning the place into a supermarket, airport and a frozen world (incl. that XL iceberg) were unrivaled. A ticket to his show was still the hottest ticket in town during any Paris fashion week for the last couple of seasons.

PHOTO © PETER STIGTER FASHION WEEK PARIS WOMEN READY TO WEAR SPRING SUMMER 2009 FILENAME IS DESIGNER NAME

And as if designing four to eight Chanel collections a year wasn’t enough for a man of his age, Lagerfeld managed to work at least three of more jobs on the side. He also designed for Fendi and his own namesake label. Not to mention he was the photographer to many of his own fashion projects and he made short films to accompany every new collection. The past couple of years he worked with Coca Cola, H&M, Magnum and Opel and never showed any sign of slowing down. Karl was unstoppable or as he once put it in an interview: “To design is to breathe. So if I can’t breathe, I’m in trouble.” “Why should I stop working?” he said. “If I do, I’ll die and it’ll be all finished.”

Eager as he was Karl also never stopped studying and learning from the books of his libraries filled with just about every single book on fashion written in the past two hundred years. And when asked how he was able to deal with such information overload he said he had a “Google mind”.

PHOTO © TEAM PETER STIGTER FILENAME IS DESIGNER NAME SPRING/SUMMER 2015

Like no other Karl Lagerfeld was able to keep Chanel and it’s tweed suits and quilted bags relevant. By improving and reinventing himself every single time (he wanted every season to become better than the one before, he never looked back). By joining forces with the latest it-girls (which he immediately turned into muses) of the fashion industry and being completely unpredictable in both his designs and his statements to the press. And boy, did Karl Lagerfeld say things like he meant it. He had no filter when talking to the press and always made sure journalists left with a bunch of new Lagerfeld oneliner headliners.

PHOTO © TEAM PETER STIGTER FILENAME IS DESIGNER NAME FALL/WINTER 2014

He turned himself into an icon wearing the same black and white outfit, the black sunglasses, the grey ponytail and the gloves for ages. And he made sure to involve his favorites Baptiste Giabiconi, Brad Kroenig and his cat Choupette in many of his projects.

PHOTO © PETER STIGTER FILENAME IS DESIGNER NAME FALL/WINTER 2010

He was the subject of at least three documentaries, “Lagerfeld Confidential” (2007), “Un Roi seul” (2007), and “Karl Lagerfeld se dessine” (2013), and several books, including a compilation of his quotations, “The World According to Karl,” from Flammarion (2013).

When asked about his secret to life and success he said: “There is no secret to life. The only secret is work. Get your act together, and also, perhaps, have a decent life. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t take drugs. All that helps.”

Coco Chanel kept designing till her 86th, Karl Lagerfeld nearly matched that. He will be missed.