Intro

Karl Lagerfeld is a witty, truthfully spoken, and black and white fashion designer that brought the label Chanel back to life. A man of brilliance, he is one of the industries most decorated designers and is considered to be at the very height of his career in the modern age. Dressing celebrities like Cara Delevingne and Jessica Chastain, Lagerfeld is almost as famous for his quick and direct ‘one-liners’ as he is in fashion designing, and has caused some controversy throughout his years in the business with his outspoken views. Despite this, Karl Lagerfeld is a fashion genius and was always destined to have a big future in the industry.

 

Life

Karl Lagerfeld was born on the 10th of September 1933 in Hamburg, Germany. His father was a wealthy man and the owner of a large company that produced and imported evaporated milk. It is hard, however, to distinguish Lagerfeld’s life story as he is constantly changing his age, his parents’ background, and where he comes from. It is known that his last name is spelled with a ‘t’ rather than a ‘d,’ however, like his father he adopted the ‘d’ as it sounded more ‘commercial.’

Karl Lagerfeld grew up in a very wealthy home where intellectual activities were encouraged. His mother was an accomplished violinist, and his family was very religious. They would often sit at the dinner table and talk about subjects such as religious philosophy. Lagerfeld recalls this period of his life very vividly. He states that his mother was always supportive of him and his dreams, and she once stated:

‘There is one God for everybody and all the religions are shops…I remember her being on the couch reading and telling other people what to do. … I spent my childhood in the country and started reading even before going to school. There was nothing else in my life but sketching and reading.’’

When Hitler began to rise to power in Germany, Karl Lagerfeld and his family moved to the more rural area of northern Germany. The young fashion designer was cut off from any knowledge of Nazi soldiers.

Moving to the country allowed Karl to express what he loved, and that was drawing. He states:

“I wanted to become an illustrator, so I studied every book of costume from any kind of period and tried to make illustrations.”

Eventually, Karl Lagerfeld would end up working in the fashion industry, though in the beginning his passion of sketching clothing designs was put aside due to the fact he didn’t believe he could make much money from it.

His famous critical opinion of what others would wear stems from his days in school were he would be critical of what other children would wear. It wasn’t until he returned to Hamburg in his teenage years that his career in the fashion industry began.

Education

Karl Lagerfeld was never big on education. At the age of just 14, he decided he would leave school and ask for his parents blessing to move to Paris. He states:

“I was never interested in going to school with the rest of those idiots.”

Though he didn’t believe much in education, when he arrived in Paris he attended the private school Lycee Montaigne where he majored in drawing and history.

While at school, Lagerfeld submitted a collection of sketches and fabric samples to a designing competition. He was fortunate enough to take first place in the coat category. There, he met Yves Saint Laurent, a fashion designer who would soon become a close friend.

 

Career

Karl Lagerfeld’s career began when he landed a full-time job with French designer Pierre Balmain as a junior assistant and eventually an apprentice. He worked in the demanding job for three years, eventually leaving the designer to work as creative director with Jean Patou.

Eventually, the fashion designer became bored with his current position and moved on to other things. He states:

“I became bored there, too, and I quit and tried to go back to school, but that didn’t work, so I spent two years mostly on beaches—I guess I studied life.”

In 1963, Lagerfeld began designing for Tiziani, branching into a ready-to-wear range. He would design for the company until 1969 as well as freelancing for the French fashion house Chloe.

Lagerfeld worked for many fashion houses, bringing his touch of inspiration and design to each. He began to create a name for himself, but his biggest break came when he joined the then dying fashion house, Chanel. He states:

“Now people are good at revivals, but those days when a label [was] dead, it was supposed to be dead forever, there was no [chance] of coming back,” Lagerfeld said. “When someone says don’t do it, it’s hopeless, then I think it’s interesting. Apparently, it worked.”

By the 80’s, Karl Lagerfeld was a fashion star in the industry. The press and the critic loved his constantly changing taste for fashion as well as his social life.

In 1984, the fashion designer finally started his own label. He builds it around the idea of intellectual and sexy clothing. The label quickly built a reputation for quality clothing with his ready-to-wear pieces like the cardigan jackets which came in an array of different colors.

However, he once again grew bored with his own label, and in 2005 he sold it to Tommy Hilfiger. In the past few years, Karl Lagerfeld has dabbled in film and photography and has even designed a line of glassware for a Swedish company. Recently, he has opened up a small store in Doha, Qatar.

He is known by the press and fashion lovers all around the world as the fashion designer who would jump from one label to another, putting a track record of success behind him like no other fashion designer has achieved. Regarding him jumping from job to job, he states:

“What I enjoy most is doing something I’ve never done before.”

 

Collections

Karl Lagerfeld has been hailed as one of the best modern fashion designers of our age. His ability to make a piece of clothing modern, yet rich in history and sexy, witty and complimenting is loved by all in the industry.

Although Karl Lagerfeld has been with a range of different fashion houses, he has brought a unique style to each one. His ready-to-wear collection re-launched the label Chanel and brought it back to be one of the biggest and best labels in the fashion industry.

Despite working for a range of labels, Lagerfeld has always believed that his clothing designs should be affordable. Fashion should be something that is accessible to everyone. He states:

“You cannot dance at three parties on the same evening. I always said to my investors to put it on another level and make it affordable. I think that’s a modern attitude.”

His most famous collection is named ‘Art’ and has been widely acclaimed by fashion critics, lovers, and the press. Karl Lagerfeld has always loved art but believes that it is a dying medium as everything that is wonderful with the world has already been painted. His collection ‘Art’ was brought to life by models who stepped out of paintings. He states:

“Everyone is talking about art! Organizing the fashion show was a delight for me. I’m a big fan of Pop Art and Minimalism, as well as anything grand or oversized. Painting is a bit dead. All the best works have already been painted. Nobody will top Manet, Matisse or their like. Artists no longer find joy in painting. Contemporary art finds beauty in large empty surfaces, even though they can be alienating. It’s not always the most attractive thing in a small, bourgeois interior. And it’s not so easy to figure out who might become the next Warhol. You need a special pair of antennas to pick up on those signals…”

 

Interesting Facts About Karl Lagerfeld

1. Karl Lagerfeld is not only famous for his wonderful and truthful collections, but also for his white hair, which he takes the utmost care in. However, it turns out that his famous hair is actually grey, not white. He states: “I have my hair done because I hate to have hair in my face when I sketch. My hair is not really white; it’s kind of grayish, and I don’t like the color. So I make it totally white with Klorane dry shampoo. That is the best thing to do because my hair is always clean.”

2. Karl Lagerfeld is a very clean person. He has to have his bed sheets, nightshirt, and robes washed every single day. He will only wear or sleep in bed sheets that are white for the simple fact that you can’t hide anything in white.

3. Lagerfeld has two houses that he used actively. He states: I never have lunch, but when I do, I ask them to bring it to me in the house. I actually have two houses. This house here, it’s only for sleeping and sketching, and I have another house two-and-a-half meters away for lunch and dinner and to see people, and where the cook is and all that. I don’t want that here. Even if the place is huge, I want to be alone. If I want something, I call them, and they’re next door, they come. The studio is next door, the office is next door. If I have guests and butlers, I don’t want them in my house. Everything is next door.”

4. Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t go to work during regular hours like most designers as he wants the premiere to stay in the workroom with the workers throughout the day. He states: “I go there from five to eight, half-past eight. I’m very quick and organized. The way I sketch, the way I work, I prefer to do all my work in the evening or in the morning and during the weekend, and I send everything on the iPhone. I’m not there in the studio draping—I don’t do those things. My work is very conceptual.”

5. Karl Lagerfeld has a cat names Choupette who is his absolute life. He states: “I play with my cat, Choupette. The cat always stays home, and when I leave, the maid takes care of her. The cat is a very refined object; she doesn’t go into the street, and she doesn’t go to other places. She is a spoiled princess.” 

 

Awards

  • Bambi – Creativity in 2005
  • La Medaille Grand Vermeil de la Ville in 2017

Karl Lagerfeld has been hailed as one of the most creative and innovative designers of our age and is only getting better and better as we move forward into the modern era. Despite his ability to be loud and outspoken, Lagerfeld has transformed fashion houses into what they are today and has created some of the most incredible designs in the fashion industry.