Americans use the term “icon” fairly loosely and frequently, but with Karl Lagerfeld it isn’t just a term intended to flatter. Few others have done this much for the fashion world than the multitalented and celebrated designer. Between his reinvention and advancement of the Chanel house, his unique and diverse collections for Fendi, and the success of his own brand, Karl Lagerfeld has become a household time even for the fashion illiterate.
Lagerfeld has been showcasing the talent of Chanel’s ateliers since the 80s. After the prominent fashion house was declared almost dead, Lagerfeld turned it around to something that he dubbed “intellectual sexiness,” and had a lifelong contract with the fashion house. His lengthy term with the fashion house was never void of surprises, creating a Chanel supermarket, and hosting the first runway show in Havana, Cuba. Although he revamped the tweed suits, his collections often strayed far from the norm, and were a contradiction in themselves. Due to Lagerfeld’s passing, Virginie Viard has been named creative director to continue Lagerfeld’s vision for the house.
Few others have been able to head multiple fashion houses while still maintaining that house’s distinct voice and impact. Lagerfeld’s work at Chanel and Fendi is so contrasting that it is hard to believe they birthed from the mind of the same designer. Karl kept up with youth culture
Karl Lagerfeld was also known for his innate ability to pick a muse that embodied more than just the world’s style at the time. His celebration of beauty, but also his admiration for women who are changing the agenda, is shown in his pick of, at times, unexpected muses. To be Lagerfeld’s muse meant that you were not only on top of the fashion world, but also part of his innermost circle.
The most interesting part of Lagerfeld’s life, however, is his personal. He claims that no one truly knows his birthday, and has disclosed little about his childhood. His closest companion, Choupette, has inspired the masses. “I cannot imagine another life because I don’t want it. I’m envious of nothing” Lagerfeld once told Vogue. A self-described improviser, Lagerfeld stayed true to his personal style even in privacy.
“Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step.”