Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic longtime artistic director at Chanel, passed away on February 19, 2019. He was 85 years old at his passing. He was known for his ingenuity and work ethic. The tireless designer churned out collections up until his death. His passing is being mourned by the entire fashion industry.
Career of Karl Lagerfeld
Born in pre-war Germany in the 1930s, Karl Otto Lagerfeldt changed his surname to make it sound “more commercial”. He moved to Paris as a teenager, working briefly as a design assistant before moving to Fendi and Chloe in the 1960s. It was his association with Chanel that made him a household name.
Lagerfeld joined the Chanel fashion house in 1983 and brought new life to the label. His designs added glitz to the couture house’s style. He maintained his own brand, as well. Lagerfeld was known for the kindness and encouragement that he extended to new designers. Victoria Beckham is one of the fashion world’s stars who lavished praised on Lagerfeld, thanking him for his generosity.
Legacy of Karl Lagerfeld
Lagerfeld was known for his ponytail, shades, and fearless expression. He was known for being “unfiltered”, and his commentary elicited both admiration and controversy. In honor of his life and legacy, we prefer to focus on his words to remember. Here are some pearls of wisdom (or “Karlisms”) that Karl Lagerfeld peppered into various interviews throughout his life. May we use them to keep his memory alive and to inspire our own work.
“When I took over Chanel, everybody said to me, ‘Don’t touch it. It’s dead. There’s nothing you can do.’ And I said to myself, ‘I love that people think that. Now let’s see.’” –WWD
“I design like I breathe. You don’t ask to breathe. It just happens.” — April 1983 (“Karl Lagerfeld: The Banker’s Holiday”)
“I’m very curious. I read every magazine, I have spies all over the place, I know everything. Very few people are as informed as I am.” –WWD
“Personally, I have no time. I don’t do internet, I don’t do Facebook. I have to sketch, I have to play with Choupette, I have to sleep. The day is too short for that.” –The Cut
“Those social networks, there’s something sad about them….It’s like a talkative mirror where people talk to themselves. And what I hate most in life is selfies.” –WWD
“Is there something healthier than competition? If not, you fall asleep and think success, and what you did, is granted. Nothing is granted in fashion, and this is what I love about fashion.” –WWD
“When I was four, I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday. I wanted my clothes prepared so I could wear anything I wanted at any time of the day. I was a clothes freak. And I was mad for dressing differently at least four times a day.” –The Beautiful Fall
“They’re [his sunglasses] my burka… I’m a little shortsighted, and people, when they’re shortsighted, they remove their glasses and then they look like cute little dogs who want to be adopted.” –Vogue
“To say that there is no fashion anymore is ridiculous. The fashion of no-fashion is still fashion. And fashion is a train that waits for nobody. Get on it, or it’s gone.”
“There was once a designer in Paris who said, ‘My dresses are only for intelligent women.’ She went out of business, so maybe there were only idiots. In fact, it was not clever for her to say that. I design for the people who like. There is no age group because age group is racism in a way, too.”
Thank you, Karl Lagerfeld, for the fashion, the memories, and the words to live by. You will be missed!