Karl Lagerfeld was born on September 10, 1933 in Hamburg, Germany as Karl Otto Lagerfeldt. He was a costume designer and actor, known for La doublure (2006), Talons aiguilles (1991) and Once and Forever (2015). He died on February 19, 2019 in Paris, France.
Karl Lagerfeld by Tony Glenville.
Karl Otto Lagerfeld one of the last of the fashion’s iconic designers and legends died today at the age of 85.
Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, in 1933 after attending private school he moved to Paris to study at the Lycee Montaigne where he studied drawing and history.
He won the coat prize in 1954 at a competition sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, where Yves Saint Laurent won first prize. He was taken on as a result of this by the house of Pierre Balmain where he stayed three years before moving to Jean Patou, designing under the name Roland Karl.
His time there was not a success and he left to think about his future. however, in 1963 he started designing for Tiziani in Rome, in 1964, Chloe in Paris. In 1965 he joined Fendi, where he revolutionized the traditional designs of the historic Roman fashion house.
In 1983 he was hired at Chanel to design Haute Couture, and one year later in 1984 he took over the pret-a-porter as well. His time there was a triumphant success, across many seasons, with the couture shows being shown in the salons of rue Cambon or at the Ritz.
Later in the Grand Palais, utilising spectacular sets such as a vast Chanel Supermarket, Café Chanel and formal eighteenth century gardens. Between 1992 and 1997 he returned to Chloe.
In 1998 he launched a new collection under his own label, the Lagerfeld Gallery, which in 2006 took on the name of its founder, Karl Lagerfeld, the name of his previous own label during the 1980’s.
Forever open-minded and interested in the world around him, he was the first couture designer to offer his talent to the mass market, designing 30 styles for the H&M brand in 2004. He moves from the eighteenth century to Art Deco to Memphis design as the years go past and redecorated or evolved his entire life into the new mode. In 2001 he slimmed down to wear the newest Hedi Slimane silhouette and more recently he acquired a cat, named Choupette whose life he features in books and interviews.
For years, Lagerfeld has personally overseen the photo shoots for the advertising campaigns of his lines. His ability to fire off quotes, in several languages, to star in the documentary ” Lagerfeld Confidential” ; and his ability to play modern media at its own game was spectacular. In January 2019 he failed to appear after either of the presentations of Chanel Haute Couture, it was and is now the end of an era.
Inspiration and philosophy
Karl was Chloé, he was Fendi, he was Chanel and he was Lagerfeld. His distinguishing feature was his ability to create designs for several brands at the same time. This talent, which allowed him to identify with the differing styles of the houses he worked for is based on accentuating their distinctive features in original ways, and a necessity.
Although he always started out with a complete awareness of the aesthetic and historic roots of the fashion house he had been
hired to work for, Lagerfeld’s name was closely associated with moving always forward, be it fashion, interiors or music.
His multiple iPod’s and constant moving from house to house is testimony to this attitude. At Chloé during his original tenure, he proposed fashions in Art Deco style, and he worked on the prints, thus creating a plethora of innovative patterns. In his collaborative work at Fendi he completely reworked the very idea of the fur coat, proposing easier silhouettes, featherweight construction, a more youthful look, thus transforming fur into a fun garment (he invented the double-F logo, which stands for ‘fun fur’).
Finally, at Chanel he revitalized the historic house by reinterpreting some of the brand’s icons (pearls, the ‘2.55’ flap bag, bouclé fabric, black and white, the tailored suit, the little black dress) and creating garments that introduced an element of street style for modern women.
Inès de la Fressange was one of Karl Lagerfeld’s muses. While the woman imagined by Coco, like herself could ride a horse, run along the seashore, work and move freely, Karl Lagerfeld’s rode a motorbike, flew an aeroplane, did a parachute jump, all the while remaining elegant. His creative process is rigorous. The results are ultramodern, high- tech, witty, with an extremely graphic aesthetic rendering, able to be understood at a glance.
The luxury of his creations is always discreet, forever a challenge to precious materials, which are used and mixed without ever taking on a leading role. For example, the iconic striped shirt he created for Chanel looks like printed jersey from a distance but on closer examination proves to be made of complex two-toned embroidery with microscopic beads.