It’s very sad to say that the iconic fashion designer and creative director of more than just one well-known fashion brand, Karl Lagerfeld passed away this Tuesday, February 19, at the age of 85. Lagerfeld was born on September 10, 1933 in Hamburg, Germany to parents Elisabeth Bahlmann and Otto Lagerfelt. From a young age, Karl “was always interested in fashion, even before [he] knew that it was called fashion.” His career began in 1955, after winning a coat design contest, and two years post moving to Paris, as an assistant to French couturier, Pierre Balmain. Karl’s fashion career continued and after three years, he became an art director with Jean Patou, another French fashion designer. He stayed with Patou for five years until becoming a freelance designer; one of the first to do that in the modern industry. As if that wasn’t enough, Karl started to design for the brands Chloé, Charles Jourdan, and Valentino.
It wasn’t until 1965 that he began working with the house of Fendi as head designer for its ready-to-wear and fur collection. While at Fendi, Karl modernized their fur line by using new and innovative animal pelts. About 10 years later, in 1974, showcasing 200 designs, Karl’s show with Chloé was said to have “set a new direction for the fashion industry.” When his contract expired in 1983, he began working with the house of Chanel as creative director after the passing of the founder and namesake, Coco Chanel. On top of working with both houses, Lagerfeld created his own house of fashion, KARL LAGERFELD; this was in 1984 and the brand still exists today.
Karl has moved the industry in more ways than one. He worked not only as a designer but also a stylist, photographer, film director, art director, costume designer, visual artist, and even a publisher. His career with Chanel gave him international recognition; especially when he rebranded the company, forever honoring Chanel’s original vision while, at the same time, creating the future. Later in his career, Karl became the first high fashion designer to team up with H&M, a fast-fashion brand, for a collaboration line.
Today, the entire fashion industry is mourning the loss of the iconic Karl Lagerfeld. He became a huge success as a hardworking individual from the age of 17, inspiring the world of fashion on different levels. His work and personality, that was loved by so many, and the way he impacted both the Fendi and Chanel brands, as well as countless others, will never be forgotten.