Karl Lagerfeld has passed away today. We’re sad!
Oh to have been Karl Lagerfeld for a day. Diet Coke on tap, an endless supply of Hedi Slimane ensembles, a Hummer driven by an impossibly suave assistant – The Kaiser was the quintessential fashion pimp. He made iconic and iconoclastic clothes for eons, and embodied infinite artistic gusto. He despised the #MeToo movement (“Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!”) and chastised Meryl Streep for her self-righteous virtue signalling. We’ll miss the cheeky monochrome assassin a lot! He was 85. The cause of death: pancreatic cancer.
The news follows the absence of the designer at his Chanel Couture show last month, where he did not appear for his signature wave – instead, the house’s studio director Virginie Viard came out on his behalf.
The legendary designer started his career in fashion in 1955 as Pierre Balmain’s assistant, before moving on to Parisian label Jean Patou. In 1964, he moved to Chloé where he created a few pieces for each collection, before designing full offerings to great critical acclaim. By 1965, he had joined Italian label Fendi, where he undertook the role of creative director of fur, and later the women’s ready-to-wear line. He remained in this position until his death, overseeing the rise (and recent resurgence) of the iconic Baguette bag, as well as the establishment of Haute Fourrure.
Lagerfeld’s first show for Chanel was on January 25, 1983, at a time when the designer was still working on both Chloé and Fendi collections simultaneously. At the time, he told the fashion press that he was “delighted” to be working 16 hour days, demonstrating a work ethic that was exponentially fruitful. His productive output was unprecedented.
Over the years at the house of Chanel, the prolific designer was known for his showmanship and OTT runway presentations. Previous shows under his direction have seen a Chanel-themed airport, a supermarket, a cruise ship, and a casino as the backdrop, as well as a forest, a beach, and a replica of the Eiffel Tower. A recently-released Netflix documentary revealed the mind-boggling, back-breaking work that goes into one of the house’s couture shows – and featured the Kaiser fast at work behind the scenes.
The designer had a samurai’s eye for detail and a future proof vision for reinventing Chanel signatures – from the buttoned boucle suit to the iconic camelia, the CC motif and the 2.55 bag – season after season. Under his watch, the house of Chanel also played a vital role in keeping Couture craftsmanship alive – partnering with ateliers such as Lesage (embroidery), Lemarié (feathers), and Maison Michel (millinery). Also working as a photographer and filmmaker, he shot the house’s spirited campaigns himself – capturing Pharrell and Cara Delevingne as a prince and princess and bombshell Kristen Stewart as Coco Chanel.
He also designed for his own eponymous label, which was first established in 1984, before re-branding to Lagerfeld Gallery in 1998, and finally once more to simply Karl Lagerfeld in 2012. The label collaborated with high street retailer H&M on a limited diffusion range in 2004. The global fashion set went berserk and the entire range sold out in seconds.
Lagerfeld was and will remain one of fashion’s most beloved and worshipped figures, and his legacy and impact on the industry will, without a doubt, live on for generations. Our thoughts are with those who knew and loved him – including godson Hudson Kroenig and his beloved cat Choupette – throughout this difficult time.
Fendi’s show is due to take place on Thursday, while Chanel’s AW19 collection is scheduled to be unveiled during PFW on March 5.
Images Chanel + Netflix + Karl Lagerfeld
VIVISXN MEDIA – Karl Lagerfeld has died! Art + Fashion + Tech + Music + Pop Culture + 深度学习 + AI + Machine Learning + 音乐时尚 + 艺术 + 高科技 + 流行文化 + 大众文化 + 前卫艺术 + Chanel + Virginie Viard + Fashion Icons + H&M + Chanel CEO Alain Wertheimer + ‘7 Days Out’ + Fashion Film