Image by Stephan Moskovic
At 85 years of age, Karl Lagerfeld has sadly passed away; news of which has stilled the fuss of fashion week as the legendary designer and singular figure has been an underpinning to the fashion world since the 60’s, immeasurably adding to its mythos, levity, drama, and fun. Karl, who was instantly recognizable for his perfected look: white pony-tailed hair, black leather gloves, Chrome Hearts rings, and sunglasses, was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1933 to Otto Lagerfeld and Elisabeth Bahlmann. Karl and his family would emigrate to France where an assisting job for Pierre Balmain would ultimately beget the Karl Lagerfeld known around the world today, a household name even for those who know little of fashion’s affairs.
He became most known for his work as artistic director of Chanel, which he held tenure at since 1983, following Gabrielle Bonheur “Coco” Chanel’s death in 1971 and the house’s launch of ready-to-wear in 1978. Lagerfeld took to task invigorating the stuffy brand and all its bouclé jackets, which he did—and well, perhaps with more prolificacy than any other designer; in 2018 the privately owned company was reportedly worth upwards of 10 billion. A tireless workaholic, he also was the creative director for Fendi since 1965 and ran lines under his own name, producing numerous collections each year.
His life was dense with revisions in his own tastes with often-quotable anecdotes surfacing either from his own bon mot-laden interviews where more of his unique Weltanschauung would unfold: take his best-selling book “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet” for example, a diet he used to fit into Hedi Slimane’s Dior Homme skinny pants; or his love for Choupette, his fabled white Birman cat. Though the news is devastating, Karl’s legendary energy was rumored to be in decline after an absence from his haute couture show in January. Anna Wintour remembered the late designer in a statement on Vogue, “Today the world lost a giant among men. Karl was so much more than our greatest and most prolific designer—his creative genius was breathtaking and to be his friend was an exceptional gift. Karl was brilliant, he was wicked, he was funny, he was generous beyond measure, and he was deeply kind. I will miss him so very much.”
In honor of Karl Lagerfeld’s insatiable quest for inspiration, purpose and looking towards tomorrow, we are doing the same while remembering the great man and some of his favorite muses.
Freja Beha Erichsen
Ines de la Fressange
Lily Rose Depp
Saskia de Brauw