The man in black has bowed down for one last time, marking the end of a daring, innovative, and exciting era of fashion.
Known for his slick white ponytail, fingerless leather gloves, and a poker face behind black shades, Lagerfeld lead an exhilarating career in fashion—as a designer, a creative director, as well as becoming a brand by himself—an edgy, rock-chic, and daring, just like him.
Born to a wealthy family in Hamburg, Germany, he left home for Paris to pursue fashion. At the young age of 21, Lagerfeld seized a win at a fashion design competition (specifically in the coats category), and was instantly hired to be Pierre Balmain’s assistant. After 3 years of fulfilling this role, he moved on to become an art director at Jean Patou.
In 1964, he embarked on a freelance journey—which was pretty much unheard of—with Chloé. He was insistent on changing the fashion landscape, and was ready to move on from haute couture. In 1965, he managed to add Fendi to the list, working closely on fur design, which later sparked controversy.
As 1983 rolled in, Chanel acquired him as a creative director.
The meticulous Lagerfeld transformed the traditional, Parisian brand to a modern fashion powerhouse. It was repeatedly said that he gave the brand a lively spirit that was very much missing—but he did not stop there.
Lagerfeld thrived in not only re-vamping the fashion designs, but also the Chanel campaigns and shows. The icon was famous for often photographing his own campaigns, and taking runway shows to an impressive level of creativity, most notable when he had the spectators sit inside a faux airplane for his SS’12 show, have a solar panel runway with massive wind turbines stretched out across in the SS’13 show, or when he pulled off creating sets such as the Chanel Supermarket (SS’14), the Chanel Casino (SS’15), as well as the Chanel Airport (SS’16). He also famously transformed the French Grand Palais numerous times, most famously as a space center, launching a Chanel spaceship to conclude the show (AW’17), and his last chef-d’œuvre (SS’19), turning the space into a beach.
Big Shoes To Fill:
After breaking the sad news, Chanel announced that Virginie Viard, Karl Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman, will be his successor. Viard has been working closely with Lagerfeld for decades, and is said to have had the best training to continue the legacy.