In Memory Of Karl Lagerfeld: 10 Milestones Of His Fashion Legacy
A veil of sadness fell over the fashion world when word of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing at 85, was announced on February 19, 2019. News of his demise brings his journey as Chanel creative director to an end, of which he has steered since 1983. Karl’s creative genius for Chanel and the other fashion houses he’s worked with has given them room for reinvention time and again, and the multi-disciplined maestro has left some lasting quotes, including one that resonate with his passing, that is the continuity “to embrace the present and invent the future.” In memory of his legend, we’ve compiled 10 of his iconic creations that will go down in history.
1/10 From Balmain to Fendi
Prior to joining Chanel in 1983, Karl played assistant to Pierre Balmain in 1955, and was creative director at Chloé. He began a Fendi collaboration that year too. Karl presented his first haute couture collection at Chanel, that was inspired by the 1920s and 1930s silhouttes; of knee-length wool suits, wide lapel jackets, jewels and ruffled organza.
2/10 Evolving the Chanel jacket
Among his many inventions, the Chanel suit and its constant evolution is his legacy embraced and recognised by women all over the world. The runway has seen a slew of transformations to this wardrobe essential, ranging from fabrics of tweed to lace chiffon, and exploration of new shapes from cropped boleros to maxi iterations.
See also" Why each Chanel haute couture jacket takes 130 hours to make
3/10 The Fendi 'fun fur' movement
It was Karl who created the Fendi double F logo– which also stands for ‘fun fur’, in a move that radically turned the fashion house around from conservative bourgeois to high-fashion creativity. Karl focussed on fur, uniting the Italian luxury to Fendi's Roman identity, giving it a name through specialty fur artisanal touches and techniques. This 50-year partnership between Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld is perhaps the longest collaboration in fashion history, too.
4/10 Couture, logos and pop culture
Although Karl lent his creative direction across multiple brands, that did not stop him from starting his own fashion line in 1984. He succinctly evoked the essences of each houses, and his tenure at Chanel was a peek into his audacious mind. Apart from the established skirt suits and boucle tweeds, he ventured to sporty creations like surfboards, inteoduced the interlocking Chanel ‘C’ logos, feminist-themed garments, dramatic ball gowns and bridal looks, among many others.
See also: Cosy Meets Couture: How Chanel Created The Métiers d'Art Runway Look For Kaia Gerber
5/10 Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion innovator and artist
For a designer who sketches as fast as he talks, Karl’s imagination runs like a well-oiled machine conveyed in another passion – photography. He has shot for Chanel advertising campaigns, magazine editorial, as well as landscape and architectural images. His artistic eye also extends as a keen furniture collector and in a hotel design collaboration.
6/10 Immersive runway sets
Karl’s ideas do not stop at the outfit – to experience a season, he has masterminded fshowstopping runway sets that run the gamut of cinematic sets to larger-than-life landscapes, and couture versions of common spaces. Among these theatrical structures are an aquatic theme for spring/summer 2012 designed by the late Zaha Hadid, a real 265-tonne iceberg at fall/winter 2010, and the space station runway set seen at fall/winter 2017.
7/10 Menswear influence
Though Karl is known more for womenswear, he lends his vision to menswear too, leaving his impressions in Fendi’s fall/winter 2019/2020 collection for men – a first and last for the brand. The collection played upon fur and leather, and feminine-inspired gold accessories and necklaces, and 70s-styled turtle necks and v-necks.
See also: Karl Lagerfeld: The Chosen Artist For Fendi Men’s Fall Winter 2019/2020 Collection
8/10 Outfits for cool kids
For spring 2016, Karl announced a clothing line for children under his eponymous label. The collections are designed for newborns to 16-year-olds and are a reflection of the mini-Karl: cool, rock-chic and iconic.
9/10 Celebrity collaborations
Academy Award winners adored him, fashion tastemakers respected him – To be in Karl’s books was more than a recognition, it paved one for a successful fashion career. Some A-listers who have informed his visions include Ines de la Fressange, Kristen Stewart, and millennial muses, Lily Rose Depp and Kaia Gerber, the latter of whom he collaborated with in a Karl x Kaia collection.
See also: Haute Couture Week: Karl Lagerfeld lays his cards on the table at Chanel couture
10/10 Karl takes on cosmetics
In 2014, Karl ticked off makeup collaboration with with Shu Uemura: Shupette, inspired by his beloved cat Choupette. It was a colourful, whimsical tribute complete with a furry white pouch designed in the cat’s likeness and product packaging bearing illustrations of the blue-eyed feline.