Remembering Karl Lagerfield

Vintage leather bags, artistic outfit ensembles and fruity-floral fragrances are just three things we think of when someone mentions Chanel. As an haute-couture designer brand, Chanel has adorned models traipsing across stages across the world for years.

Apart from tempting consumers in luxury department stores, the Chanel label is a worldwide chain and has roughly 310 global locations. The reinventor of this multi-billion dollar fashion company was none other than a man named Karl Lagerfeld.

On Feb. 19, 2019, Lagerfeld passed away at the age of 85 after being rushed to hospital the night before. His cause of death is still unknown, however, there have been recent speculations about Lagerfeld’s health, particularly after missing two Chanel haute couture runways.

Lagerfeld was a hard-worker and dedicated designer. He was born in 1933 in Hamburg, Germany and before Chanel, Lagerfeld gripped tightly to his position at Chloé, as well as Fendi.  He joined Chanel in 1983, expanding the brand and turning it into a wide-scale fashion business since Coco Chanel’s death in 1971. Although Lagerfeld had a more modern twist to his designs, the label of Chanel was still rectified in his garments.

Lagerfeld’s favourite pastime was sketching. He would sell his drawings for thousands of dollars at auctions, and each one was more unique than the last. Apart from that, Lagerfeld spent the majority of his time working, and so it is fitting that his creative legacy will live on through his work, which earned him many awards during his lifetime. As for his free time, he kept it to himself, and enjoyed spending time with his cat, Choupette.

Though the fashion giant was iconic to many, he was also known to be controversial and had a long history of making fatphobic comments and unprofessional interactions with models. He was explicit in defending the fashion world’s trend of exclusively hiring thin models, telling a German magazine in 2009 that “no one wants to see a curvy woman” on the runway. He also insisted that “fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight.” 

Lagerfeld was also a vocal critic of the #MeToo movement and of Germany opening its borders to migrants, including Syrian refugees. No matter the drama his words caused or who they insulted, Lagerfeld stuck by his comments.

Though Lagerfeld’s personality was construed by many in the industry to be harsh, it would be difficult to argue that he hasn’t left a mark on the fashion industry as we know it. He worked on six collections per year for Chanel, each one more grand than the last. He revolutionized fashion, but he was also problematic in perpetuating a strict body image in his work.

“I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth” - K.L.