A look back at Karl Lagerfeld’s legacy in fashion, before the first Monday in May a.k.a the Met Gala is an absolute must. An iconic figure not just by way of his work but also his association, unmissable profile, unbelievable lifestyle and last but not the least–the smattering of celebrities and models who thronged to share space with him. Karl ruled several decades in fashion with his intuitive thought and spectacular body of work. Although most commonly associated with Chanel, he spent years reviving Chloé, designed couture for Fendi and also launched his own label. Ahead we look at his life so richly lived, and his everlasting impact on fashion and beyond.
Never look back
Karl’s mission in life was simple–keep moving forward. Which is why, well into his 80s, he had a finger on the pulse and dictated celebrity youth culture. Anna Wintour who admired him deeply, spoke about her decision to dedicate this year’s Met Gala and the accompanying Costume Institute exhibition to him in a tribute recently.
“His desk heaved with books and paper, but he always had the latest technology at his fingertips. And he, of course, declared that fashion didn’t belong in a museum—it should look ahead, not be consigned to history. But here he is with a retrospective at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. I’m at peace with the small role I’ve played in this last contradiction because I know he would have loved being recognized—and there’s simply no one more deserving.”
Tradition but make it modern
Never once erasing Coco Chanel’s contribution or design language, the veteran designer carried forward the iconic Chanel aesthetic throughout his time at the couture house. With fantastical settings (including a rocket launched inside the Grand Palais), a supermarket set that was shoplifted by attendees and a slew of videos that reimagined Mademoiselle Chanel’s life, Karl knew how to dip in and out of tradition while staying relevant. There never was a show more talked about during fashion week, than Chanel and all of it could be attributed to just one genius.
Few are aware that Karl Lagerfeld was amongst the first names to have joined hands with H&M for their annual designer collaborations. His motive behind this was to clear the air about pricing and taste. Cheap clothing didn’t have to equate to poor taste and he managed to do that just right. When he was tasked with reviving Chloé’s fortunes, he stepped in with his fresh ideas. It’s touted that Lagerfeld era Chloé is bound to be some of the most sought after vintage in the world right now. Owners of couture houses trusted Karl to come in and hit refresh.
All in a day’s work
Karl had just the right sense of timing when to take fashion seriously and when not. From extending his creativity to the Pirelli calendar, to designing for Fendi whilst maintaining his work at Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld he continued to interact with the zeitgeist with ease. After Karl’s passing his, cat Choupette inherited 300 million euros and lives in Paris with her nanny. He owned 20 homes around the world. Karl had his enemies but what terribly successful person in fashion, doesn’t have any? He continued to lead the way forward and his inspirations still live on. Gigi Hadid expressed the impact he had on her, a young creative making headlines when Karl was at his peak.
“Karl inspired me by his storytelling—his ability to communicate worlds and bring them to life. He was an icon because he had this genius focus on what was important to him and what he was interested in, and his uniform was part of that intent. It was his armor, his way of becoming Karl Lagerfeld. Even 10 feet away, he looked like how Karl Lagerfeld was meant to look. He was awesome.”