Karl Lagerfeld, arguably the world’s most iconic designer and definitely the most prolific, has died in Paris.
In a seven-decade profession as fashion’s greatest free agent, Lagerfeld created collections concurrently for its celebrated houses of Chanel and Fendi, as well as his signature tag, at a pace without rival in the luxury market.
Virginie Viard, manager of Chanel’s design studio and Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for over 30 years, will take the creative reins in the storied brand’s style industry.
A succession plan has not yet been announced at Fendi.
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Here is the link of official Fendi Store.
For Lagerfeld, to style was to breathe, “so when I cannot breathe, I am in trouble,” he often quipped to journalists that were amazed by his inexhaustible work ethic and his insistence that he would never retire.
In actuality, his creative output appeared only to become more bountiful in his golden years, a period during which his extravagant runway productions at the Grand Palais in Paris attained a staggering degree of theatrical opulence.
At a cost of millions of dollars every year, the events surpassed the mundane boundaries of a fashion show to become something more like large-scale performance art – media spectacles where Lagerfeld, as both talented designer and visual provocateur, could best demonstrate his ability to interweave the superficialities of style with things of amazing thickness, while also parading seemingly endless ways to maintain Chanel’s classic tweeds appearing fresh and modern.
His Autumn/Winter 2017 collection featured a 115-foot-tall mechanical rocket ship that mimicked blast off.
For Fall 2014, he constructed a Chanel shopping center, its superstore-like aisles bursting with over 500 distinct products that comprised a Chanel-logo chainsaw, doormats, candy, and ketchup.
For Fall 2010, he imported enough ice and snow from Sweden to make a 265-ton indoor iceberg.
Backdrops of a man-made shore with rippling waves (Spring 2019), a scale representation of the Eiffel Tower (Fall 2017 Couture), a French brasserie with uniformed bartenders (Fall 2015) and a huge model of a passenger boat (Cruise 2019) indicated no thought was too fantastical, nor cost too decadent.
His unbelievable longevity and success as a designer, and, after his logic, the fortunes of these companies for which he worked, owed at least partially to Lagerfeld’s intentional detachment from the company side of fashion.
He claimed to not discuss sales figures or budgets with direction.
“It is something I control.”
That extraordinarily rare freedom from the restraints of fiscal responsibility enabled him to always make clothing that motivated consumers to dream.
“We made a product nobody wants, but people want,” he said.
“If you will need an ugly old car, it can wait, but if you would like a new fashion item, it can’t wait.”
As performers half his age complained of burnout from fashion’s maddening pace, Lagerfeld made himself busier by dabbling in a continuous stream of publishing, photography, design and film projects, such as a rule-breaking “fast fashion” cooperation with the mass retailer H&M in 2004 which predated the business obsession with disturbance by over a decade.
Ignoring the standard expectations of a luxury player, he also designed hotel rooms, video games, bike helmets, a BMW, and a makeup range inspired by his also-famous kitty, Choupette, also led an advertisement campaign for Magnum ice cream bars that featured a life size sculpture of version Baptiste Giabiconi left in chocolate.
Over most of his sober-minded peers at fashion’s pinnacle, he relished his iconic status both within the business and in popular culture.
Despite this extra-curricular output, however, he had been driven by something in vogue, ” he said, which was to create his designs better than they were the season before.
Because most profiles of Lagerfeld have noticed, another thing that drove him was a desire to understand everything.
He stuffed his many homes, in Paris, Biarritz, and Saint-Tropez among others, with heaps of history books and biographies, iPods filled with many forms of music, and museum-worthy collections of art and furniture he would, unceremoniously, eliminate every couple of years, after a new period or style grabbed his attention.
With his vast memory and a rapid-fire method of working and talking, he can summon details and topics on control, exploit them in a collection, then immediately proceed to another thing.
“Whatever it is, good or bad, it affects fashion,” Lagerfeld said.
“You can see this in fashion faster than any other thing happening. Fashion is something which reflects our own lives and times with the shortest launch, because, automobiles, architecture and design take years to realize.”
Lagerfeld was, in many ways, a self-drawn caricature of what a strong designer should look and sound like, a stylistic god that had been worldly and intellectual, controlling and capricious.
His bitchy quips (“sweatpants are a sign of defeat,” “trendy is the final point before tacky,” “I think tattoos are dreadful – it is like living in a Pucci dress full-time,” and many, many nasty digs at stars he believed fat or unattractive) became as much a part of their Lagerfeld mystique as were his signature white roasted ponytail and dark shades, or his habit of drinking just Coca-Cola (afterwards, Diet Coke or Coke Zero).
However, his penchant for flamboyance, combined with sometimes reckless comments in the last few years, also led to backlash for Chanel.
In any case, there had never been any serious consequences for the designer attempts to unseat him, probably as a consequence of his outsize prestige in the business and his long record of achievements.
He was best known for his job, since 1983, as artistic director at Chanel, which became one of the most lucrative and admired luxury brands in the world under his tenure.
Chanel’s earnings for 2017 were up 11 percent, forcing operating profit of $2.69 billion.
Chanel said it had decided to show its financial strength in response to speculation that the company could be a takeover target, and to demonstrate it was decided to stay independent.
When Lagerfeld was initially approached by the Wertheimer family, which had established the Chanel fragrance business and its blockbuster No. 5 odor from the 1920s, and took control the style home after World War II, it was over a decade since the death of its creator, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
Chanel’s trademark tweed bouclé coats and dresses, once seen as liberating, by then looked old-fashioned and bourgeois, and the company was in need of new leadership.
Lagerfeld was well-known for the poetic party dresses he was making at Chloe from the 1970s, which was through the dynamic development of European ready-to-wear motion for easy-to-wear and less precious clothing.
At exactly the exact same time, Lagerfeld, since he first arrived in Paris, had harbored a burning desire to work in high fashion for a couturier, and Chanel’s established atelier provided that opportunity.
“It was just Parisian doctors’ wives who wore it.”
However, it was Lagerfeld’s belief that the picture could be altered with a sense of humour and a lack of nostalgia, to be able to make clients forget everything that had come before.
“Because fashion is all about now,” Lagerfeld said in a 2007 New Yorker profile.
“You can take an idea from the past, but if you do it how it was, nobody wants it.
“Lagerfeld explained his first collections for Chanel as representing a contemporary and “chic-sexy” approach, with thinner and longer proportions, unlike Coco’s boxy-proportioned precedent.
For his spring 1984 ready-to-wear series, he re-imagined classic dresses and suits with matching hats — all in denim, and for autumn that year he included a baseball uniform worn with pearls and a ski outfit in gaudy, glittering silver and red.
Lagerfeld’s role was secure there that he was contractually believed its “designer for life.”
“Why should I quit working?” He mused to anybody who dared broach the topic of retirement.
“If I do, I will die and it will be finished.”
Karl Lagerfeld was born Karl-Otto Lagerfeldt in Germany, and raised in the countryside nearby Hamburg, on Sept. 10, 1933, according to latest biographies and a number of his relatives, though Lagerfeld needed for many years maintained he was born in 1938 or 1935. In her 2006 publication, “The gorgeous Fall,” which chronicled the heady decadence of style in the 1970s, the author Alicia Drake contended that Lagerfeld had inflated several details of his youth as part of a self-invention as a German aristocrat upon his arrival from the Paris demimonde.
Lagerfeld resisted the author for invasion of privacy, but his case was thrown out of court.
Lagerfeld, who changed the spelling of his name for commercial reasons, himself often joked about the discrepancy of his era, saying his mother, Elisabeth, a trim, stylish violinist who had been highly critical of her son in his youth, had picked the date as it was easier to write.
Further confusing matters, his dad, Christian Ludwig Otto Lagerfeldt, was the wealthy managing director of an organization that spread condensed milk from america, and had moved the family to the countryside to shield them from the hardships of the war years under Hitler, leaving little reliable evidence from the early years of Karl, an older sister, Martha Christiane, and a half-sister, Thea, by Lagerfeldt’s prior marriage.
In the long run, Lagerfeld described his childhood as a misery. He was a talented scholar and loved to sketch, believing he’d pursue a career in illustration, but he had few friends and his mom often complained about his appearances, telling him he shouldn’t smoke since his hands were gruesome, and that his nose was so big he should dictate curtains for his nostrils. But his parents encouraged his artistic ambition and sent him to Paris, where Lagerfeld found instant success in fashion.
In 1954, he won a design competition, known as the International Woolmark Prize, depending on the sketch of a jacket he filed that was created for the contest by the designer Pierre Balmain.
Of particular note, a young Yves Saint Laurent also won this year in the apparel group, foreshadowing what would become a lifelong competition between the two designers.
Whereas Saint Laurent was the contested, delicate artiste who ascended into the coveted job of couturier in Christian Dior after Dior’s sudden death in 1957, Lagerfeld was a pragmatic man.
After working for three years for Balmain, who’d hired him as an assistant, Lagerfeld designed collections for Patou, Chloé, Krizia, Charles Jourdan, Mario Valentino, and, starting in 1965, Fendi, the Italian fur firm in which he contributed designs for an astonishing 50 decades.
Fendi’s earnings were estimated by analysts at $1.3 billion in 2017, while the firm, acquired by LVMH in 2001, has undergone a significant street style moment during the previous year with its logo-driven FF Reloaded collection.
(In January, Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative manager of accessories and menswear, paid tribute to Lagerfeld’s contributions into the home with a fall men’s collection inspired by him, including fashions he designed.)
From the 1980s, Lagerfeld was widely known to the general public, even as he was only starting to design under his own name (Saint Laurent had begun a touch company that popularised the French notion of ready-to-wear from the 1960s).
Lagerfeld’s own label, called at various times Lagerfeld Gallery or Karl Lagerfeld Paris, has been around off and on as a licensing enterprise through various partnerships, such as a high-profile venture with Tommy Hilfiger in 2004 and most recently with G-III Apparel Group in america since 2016, although it has always been perceived as a side project for its designer.
However, Lagerfeld was the disciplined of both when it came to picture and self-control; he had been cast as an aristocratic German programmer at one of Andy Warhol’s more obscure movies, the 1973″L’Amour,” playing up his character as the ringleader in the absurdist circus of style.
His personal iconography included tightly fitted blazers over starched white shirts with startlingly tall collars, and skinny jeans – a comprehensive look he perfected in the 1990s, just after undertaking a diet that was dramatic.
He said he lost 92 pounds so as to fit into the prevailing shape of the afternoon, a contemporary rock-and-roll style orchestrated by Hedi Slimane, who was then at Dior Homme.
Lagerfeld became so recognisable with this appearance he started with his own likeness as a symbol on T-shirts, handbags and furry important chains for Fendi.
While his rivalry with Saint Laurent intensified during their lives, until Saint Laurent’s departure in 2008, Lagerfeld’s ultimate victory with Chanel gave him immense confidence and allowed him to pursue opportunities that no other designer would dare touch.
His 2004 collection for the Swedish merchant H&M was particularly risky, given the fate of other luxury brands such as Halston who had lost their credibility after building a mass play.
The collection was a huge hit, selling out in many markets, unleashing all manner of unorthodox designer crossovers to follow, and further afield Lagerfeld’s fame.
He was also the subject of at least three documentaries, “Lagerfeld Confidential” (2007), “Un Roi seul” (2007), and “Karl Lagerfeld se dessine” (2013), and lots of novels, including a compilation of his quotes, “The World According to Karl,” from Flammarion (2013), and “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet,” a weight-loss book he published with his doctor, Jean-Claude Houdret (2002).
For several years, Lagerfeld ran his own publishing imprint, 7L, photographed his very own advertising campaigns, and directed short films that envisioned the life of Coco Chanel and emphasized connections from Chanel’s history to his own work.
At Chanel, Lagerfeld was given the artistic license and financial resources to get the best talent, including his longtime collaborators Virginie Viard, the creative studio manager and tipped as a likely internal candidate to succeed him as Chanel’s designer, and Eric Pfrunder, Chanel’s manager of picture. In Lagerfeld’s urging, the company also embarked on a campaign to obtain many specialized French craft ateliers, like Lesage for embroidery, Lemarié for feathers and artificial flowers, Maison Michel for millinery, and Causse for glove making.
Those sources were celebrated with lavish Métiers d’Art fashion shows held in suburban destinations, such as in Edinburgh, Shanghai, Hamburg, and most recently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City in December, while Chanel’s cruise sets are staged by Dubai to Havana, Cuba, representing Lagerfeld’s approach to creating Chanel’s interlocking “CC” mark recognizable across the world.
“Logos are the Esperanto of advertising, luxury, and business now,” he said.
Lagerfeld frequently said that his only love in life was his job. He also gleefully encouraged his lavishly spoiled cat, a present from Kroenig, in interviews and on social networking.
He said he wished he could wed Choupette, in what was a funny jab at his own cartoon-like picture.
“There is not any secret to life,” Lagerfeld said.
Get your act together, and also, possibly, have a good life. Don’t smoke. Do not take drugs. All that helps.”