Fashion’s most iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld died yesterday on February 19, 2019 at the age of 85. One of the most influential and innovative minds in fashion, the designer managed to experiment and sculpt style while maintaining the ideals of the fashion house Chanel where he held the title of Creative Director for 36 years.
Karl Lagerfeld was born in Germany in 1933 and moved to Paris at the early age of 14 to study design at Lycée Montaigne. He completed his studies when he was 21 years old and immediately snagged his first job as a junior assistant at Balmain. However, in 1962, he decided to leave the fashion house as he was tired of haute couture. Instead, he pursued his notion of a freelancer’s life, creating ready-to-wear clothes which ironically he deemed more inventive and risky than couture.
In 1965, Lagerfeld joined the Fendi house where his creative talents really shined. He sent porn stars and dancers down the runway in a series of lacy swimwear and designed luxury furs which received negative unfavorable reactions from PETA.
Lagerfeld faced much scrutiny when joining Chanel due to his previous statements about haute couture. Nonetheless, during his first fashion show under the label, he impressed everyone with his ladylike designs which stayed true to the ideals of Coco, only making them more relevant and modern. “Tradition is something that you have to handle carefully, because it can kill you. Respect was never creative. What I did in a way was to update Chanel…It’s an exercise de style,” he quipped.
Karl Lagerfeld’s design skills were second nature to him. As he stated, “I do it like I breathe. I wake up in the middle of the night and have an idea. I put it on a card I have next to my bed and I make the sketches in the morning before I forget.” He applied this creative process to every project he touched, which naturally led him to form his eponymous label in 1984.
Karl Lagerfeld pushed boundaries of not only the fashion industry, but his own ideas. There were no limits to his genius and he managed to conceptualize art through the course of his designs, until truly the very end. Fashion will certainly miss the ingenuity of this brilliant designer.