With his signature white hair slicked back into a ponytail, dark glasses and chic monochrome clothing, Karl Lagerfeld is one of the most recognisable faces in the world of high fashion. A constant fashion newsmaker, he is known for his clean sense of aesthetics and vast knowledge on all things fashion. Clothes designed by him are an instant hit. Named the ‘unparalleled interpreter of the mood of the moment’ by Vogue in 1997, this veteran designer is in focus for this month’s fashion diary.
Foray Into Fashion
Born in 1933 to wealthy German parents, he was originally called Karl Otto Lagerfeldt. He later chose to call himself Karl Lagerfeld, a name he felt was ‘more commercial’. At the young age of 14, he moved to Paris to study design and art. There he participated in, and subsequently won, a design competition conducted by the International Wool Secretariat. This was the first chapter of his illustrious fashion diary. He started his career as an assistant for Pierre Balmain, later going on to work for fashion labels such as John Patou, Chloe and the fur house Fendi, which he continues to design for to this day.
The Transformation Of Chanel
His greatest achievement in fashion was perhaps the transformation he brought to Chanel, propelling the brand to the frontline in fashion news. Post the demise of Coco Chanel, the label faced a serious decline, and was in danger of shutting down. Lagerfeld joined as creative director in 1983, and what he did was nothing short of magic. He impressed critics with his first ready-to-wear collection, where he showcased traditional Chanel fashion styles with a twist. Signature elements like tweed, chains and gilded accents were presented in a contemporary manner, setting a new trend in fashion. Today, Chanel is one of the most well-known fashion labels in the world, generating an annual revenue upwards of USD 2 billion.
Defining What’s In Fashion
In 1984, he launched his eponymous fashion label, securing a spot for himself as a leading figure in the fashion industry. Based around the ideology of ‘intellectual sexiness’, the bold fashion styles ensured it was an instant hit. As the creative head for three major brands, he plays a significant role in defining latest fashion trends. He was also one of the earliest designers to bring the allure of luxury to high street fashion. He collaborated with brands such as H&M and Macy’s to create capsule collections. The trendy clothes sold out almost instantly. In addition, he has also designed footwear for Italian shoemaker Hogan.
More Than Just A Fashion Trendsetter
His list of achievements extends beyond making fashion news. Well-versed with the art of photography and film, he is famous for personally shooting ad campaigns for fashion labels where he designs. Published both independently and in several notable fashion magazines, he claims to “look at the world and at fashion with the eye of a camera”. He also directed a number of short films, one of the most popular ones being Reincarnation, an ad film for Chanel starring Cara Delavingne and Pharrell Williams. Other accomplishments by him include launching a bookstore and publishing company, designing special edition bottles for Coca Cola and creating costumes for the opera.
Adding a touch of adorableness to the designer’s fierce reputation is the bond he shares with his cat, Choupette. In 2013, he infamously declared that he was in love with her, and would marry her, if it were legal. The feline diva today is a social media celebrity in her own right, with tens of thousands of people following her opinions on fashion, online. Her sassy constructed personality and luxuriant lifestyle have made her a regular in fashion news columns. The inspiration to several of his collections, she has also featured in photo-shoots conducted by Lagerfeld. She was the fluffy face of Shupette, a limited edition range of cosmetics released by Shu Uemura in 2014.
Picture courtesy – catwalkyourself.com, vogue.it, retaildesignblog.net, birdinflight.com and popsugar.co.uk