Karl Lagerfeld’s Legacy
Karl Otto Lagerfeld is a name that will not be easily forgotten. The German designer was one of the biggest icons in the world of fashion, known as the creative director of the French fashion house Chanel. He occupied the position for 36 years until his death in February 2019, reportedly due to complications from pancreatic cancer.
Throughout his life, Lagerfeld made significant contributions to the fashion industry. He began his career on a unique note, winning The Fashion Design Competition at only 17 years old. He was catapulted into fame after his coat design was produced by the iconic Pierre Balmain, who decided to hire Lagerfeld as his assistant. He went on to carve his name in the industry through years of dedicated work. He was one of the first fashion designers to engage in freelancing, developing clothing, perfumes and accessories for brands such Chloé and Mario Valentino in the process.
He was most well known for breaking beyond conventional molds, coming up with designs featuring rabbit and squirrel fur for Fendi, which proved a hit. Following being named Chanel’s art director in 1983, the designer practically saved the house from the brink of a financial crisis. His aim was to modernize classic French pieces such as tweed, and focusing on placing the company’s monogram on a variety of products. He further introduced a shift from fashion to perfumes,
Unlike most of his contemporaries (including Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino Garavani) who often revisited their earlier designs in the form of elaborate exhibitions, Karl refused to look towards the past. “I’m not a vintage specialist,” he once stated in the interview. “Not for my life, not for my work, for nothing. I have no archives… I’m not interested in what I did. I’m just interested in what I’m doing, what can be inspired.” In many ways, we should take inspiration from his unique take on life: remember his life, but not to get stuck in the memory too long, instead looking forward in honoring his legacy.