We continue to learn a little more about those designers who put a before and after in 20th-century fashion and whose legacy still lives, inspired, and transmitted between generations of designers and, above all, the public.
Karl Otto Lagerfeld, born in Hamburg, Germany, on September 10, 1933, is known as The Kaiser (emperor) of fashion. He was a fashion designer listed as one of the most prestigious and influential of the second half of the 20th century. Reaching its fame and notoriety thanks to working carried out with the Chanel and Fendi brands.
From his youth, he demonstrated his inclination for the world of art, especially for the visual part. Beginning in his school days, drawing sketches, culminating in high school at the Lycée Montaigne in Paris. There, he specialized in history and drawing.
In 1953 he emigrated to Paris. Winning first prize in 1954 in a contest organized by the Secrétariat International de la Laine (International Wool Association in France). Thanks to the sketch of a coat.
Later, in 1955, at the age of 22, he formally began his work at Pierre Balmain’s fashion house. Where he had worked as an assistant since he was 17 years old.
In 1957, he became the artistic director of designer Jean Patou. And in 1962, he was one of the first independent designers, working in France, Italy, England, and his native Germany.
Thus, in 1964, he moved to Rome to study art history and work with the firm Tiziano. He was also starting to work independently for the Chlóe, Charles Jourdan, Krizia, and Valentino brands.
He began working with the Fendi brand in 1965, which hired him to dedicate himself to modernizing the line of fur coats. Resulting in innovative Kaiser designs, incorporating rabbit and squirrel fur, which he popularized.
She presents her first perfume for the Chloe brand. In 1983 he became artistic director of the Chanel house.
However, in 1984, while continuing his work with the Chanel and Fendi brands, he created his fashion firm, Karl Lagerfeld.
Another of the facets of this designer was also that of a photographer. So, in 1987 he began to photograph his fashion campaigns, his work gaining popularity. And his photos were used for the publication of art books.
Between 1992 and 1999, he had a special dedication to drawing and books. He dedicated himself to making illustrations for stories and opening a bookstore in Paris named 7L. A place from which a publishing house specializing in photography and visual arts was later born.
In the 2000s, the Swedish clothing brand H&M requested a collaboration to launch a capsule collection in 2004, specifically. Which was a total success, running out of it two days after the garments were in the store.
In that same year, he collaborated with the artist Madonna, designing several outfits that she used for her Re-Invention Tour. And the concerts of the singer Kylie Minogue’s Showgirl tour.
In 2010, he received the Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award, an award given by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.
He also ventured into interior design, designing two suites for the Hôtel de Crillon hotel in Paris in 2017. And a 290-room 6-star hotel in Macau in 2018.
Karl Lagerfeld died in Neuilly-Sur-Seine, France, on February 19, 2019, due to pancreatic cancer. And until his death, he kept working for Fendi and Chanel’s fashion houses.
Contributions to fashion
During his time at the Chanel fashion house, he was in charge of reinventing garments, adding his stamp and style that was often to the pop culture side.
Let’s see what his iconic pieces left a mark on the world of fashion were.
The tweed revolution
Although it is known that the tweed jacket was a Coco Chanel creation.
Karl Lagerfeld was also in charge of reviving it and putting it into circulation again.
Woman Evening Dress
It has on the inside a black corset and crinoline skirt.
Mainly of black satin and silk fabric without sleeves reaching the knee on the outside.
This is so iconic that it is part of the art collection exhibition in the Museum of Boston Fine Arts.
He designed it during his stay at Chanel and was launched in 2000.
It consists of a leather handbag with a gold metallic handle whose design is still valid today.
Created in 1989, this two-piece suit, dominated by wide lapels and gold buttons, is a model that has been versioned.
And is currently a type of ensemble synonymous with the sober and elegant image of the professional woman.
This ensemble is on display at the Röhsska Museum in Sweden like the evening dress.
Another essential piece in current clothing is the white shirt, which today is part of the basics of the closet.
And very present in the Kaiser’s signature, which had a ribbon next to its logo.
Like the ones he used himself, it is an oversized model, very much on trend today.
They come with a square frame and wide temples accompanying his logo.
Faux Fur Garments
Thanks to that pop, rocker style, part of his work and influence incorporates leather garments. They stamp his design style.
Due to his career and collaboration with many brands and fashion houses, you can find his influence and stamp in endless designs, thus leaving his style immortalized forever.