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Karl Lagerfeld, an iconic figure in the fashion industry, was a German creative genius who left an indelible mark on the world of fashion and design. Known for his signature white collared shirts, high starched collars, and black sunglasses, Lagerfeld was not only a renowned fashion designer but also a photographer, artist, and creative director at Chanel, the esteemed fashion house. With his influential and avant-garde approach to design, Lagerfeld shaped the modern fashion landscape and his unparalleled talent and distinctive style continue to resonate even after his passing in 2019. In this introduction, we will delve into Lagerfeld’s life, his contributions to the fashion world, and his lasting legacy as an iconic figure in the industry.
Who Was Karl Lagerfeld?
One of the most acclaimed fashion designers in the world, Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany. While he never revealed his true birthday, it’s been reported he was born on September 10, 1933. Known for his bold designs and constant reinvention, he was hailed in Vogue as the “unparalleled interpreter of the mood of the moment.” Lagerfeld died in Paris on February 19, 2019.
Karl Lagerfeld was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt in Hamburg, Germany. While the famous fashion designer has never revealed the exact date of his birth, it’s believed he was born on September 10, 1933. Often lauded for his constant reinvention, he removed the “t” at the end of his last name early in his career in order to make it sound “more commercial.”
Lagerfeld’s father, Christian, made his fortune by bringing condensed milk to Germany. Karl and his older sister, Martha, and a half sister, Thea, grew up in a wealthy home. Intellectual activity was encouraged at the Lagerfeld home. His mother, Elizabeth, was an accomplished violin player and talk at the dinner table often included subjects such as religious philosophy.
When Adolf Hitler rose to power in the 1930s, the Lagerfelds moved to a rural area of northern Germany, where, as Karl would later recount, he was cut off from any knowledge about the Nazis.
From an early age, Lagerfeld expressed an interest in design and fashion. As a child he often cut out pictures from fashion magazines. He was also known to be critical of what others wore to school. But it wasn’t until his teen years, after his family had returned to Hamburg, that Lagerfeld immersed himself in the world of high fashion.
Sensing his future lay elsewhere, 14-year-old Lagerfeld made the bold decision, with the blessing of his parents, to move to Paris. He’d been there just two years when he submitted a series of sketches and fabric samples to a design competition. He ended up taking first place in the coat category and meeting another winner, Yves Saint Laurent, who would become a close friend.
Soon, Lagerfeld had full-time work with French designer Pierre Balmain, first as a junior assistant, and later as an apprentice. It was a demanding position, and the young designer remained in it for three years. He took work as a creative director with another fashion house before finally, in 1961, striking out on his own.
Good work soon followed, with Lagerfeld designing collections for Chloe, Fendi (where he was brought on to oversee the company’s fur line) and others. Lagerfeld became known in the fashion industry for his innovative, in-the-moment styles. But Lagerfeld also had an appreciation for the past, and he often shopped in flea markets, finding old wedding dresses to deconstruct and reimagine.
By the 1980s, Karl Lagerfeld was a major star in the fashion world. He was a favorite among the press, who loved to chronicle his changing tastes and social life. Lagerfeld kept company with other major stars, including his good friend Andy Warhol.
During his career he developed a sort of hired gun reputation for jumping from one label to the next, and also put together a track record of success that few designers can match. At Chanel in the early 1980s he did what few thought possible: He returned what was perceived to be a near-dead brand back to life with a revamped ready-to-wear fashion line.
Around that time Lagerfeld launched his own label, in 1984, which he built around the idea of what he described as “intellectual sexiness.” Over the years, the brand developed a reputation for quality tailoring with bold ready-to-wear pieces like cardigan jackets in bright colors. In 2005 Lagerfeld sold the label to Tommy Hilfiger.
Lagerfeld, whose work crossed over into film and photography, continued to maintain a busy schedule. In 2011 he designed a line of glassware for the Swedish company Orrefors and signed on to create a new clothing collection for Macy’s. In 2015 he opened up his first Karl Lagerfeld store in Doha, Qatar.
Lagerfeld began slowing down as he advanced into his mid-80s. He sparked concern by not appearing at the end of his Chanel shows in Paris in early 2019, a development the house attributed to his being “tired.”
Days later, on February 19, 2019, it was announced that the legendary designer had passed away.
Among the many tributes, British Fashion Council Chief Executive Caroline Rush noted: “We are deeply saddened to learn the news of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing today. His unrivaled contribution to the fashion industry changed the way women dress and perceive fashion. He inspired generations of young designers and will continue to do so.”
- Name: Karl Lagerfeld
- Birth Year: 1933
- Birth date: September 10, 1933
- Birth City: Hamburg
- Birth Country: Germany
- Gender: Male
- Best Known For: In addition to his own label, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld was a major creative force behind such well-known brands as Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel and Fendi.
- Astrological Sign: Virgo
- Death Year: 2019
- Death date: February 19, 2019
- Death City: Paris
- Death Country: France
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- Article Title: Karl Lagerfeld Biography
- Author: Biography.com Editors
- Website Name: The Biography.com website
- Url: https://www.biography.com/fashion-designer/karl-lagerfeld
- Access Date:
- Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
- Last Updated: December 13, 2019
- Original Published Date: April 2, 2014
- What I enjoy most is doing something I’ve never done before.
In conclusion, Karl Lagerfeld was a true icon and innovator in the fashion industry. His immense talent and relentless dedication to his craft allowed him to create timeless and groundbreaking designs that have left an indelible mark on the fashion world. Lagerfeld’s ability to seamlessly blend classic elegance with modern sensibilities set him apart from his peers and made him a pioneer in the industry. Beyond his work as a creative director, Lagerfeld was also a renowned photographer, author, and artist, showcasing his multifaceted talents. His larger-than-life personality and unique sense of style served as an inspiration to many, and his impact will continue to be felt long after his passing. Lagerfeld’s contributions to fashion and his unwavering commitment to excellence have solidified his status as a true legend in the industry. His legacy will undoubtedly continue to shape and inspire future generations of fashion designers and enthusiasts alike.
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