Karl Lagerfeld: A one man multinational fashion phenomenon
Was he a fashion Moghul or Czar of Creativity, ingenuity or a fountainhead of virtuosity?
I cudgelled my brain a lot to portray the character of Karl Lagerfeld. But I fell short of adjectives that could portray a perfect silhouette for his towering persona. Defining him with few adjectives is like holding only a candle to him. His demise was not a demise of a phenomenon but an era, era of fashion and ingenuity. A one-man multinational fashion phenomenon, Karl Lagerfeld’s indispensable contribution to the fashion industry is a force to reckon with creativity and innovation. High On Persona pays an ode to his larger than life persona with his trailblazing journey! A Small child born and grew in German in a business family with a passion for making caricature and aspiration to make a buzz in the field of art and aesthetics shifted to Paris with an intent to learn French language which was the prerequisite to survive in France.
A name synonymous with almighty in the field of fashion designing, Karl Lagerfeld has carved a niche for himself with his incredible work which is complemented with a creative nuance. The ingenious force behind iconic fashion brands like Chanel and Fendi, Karl is reckoned to reinvent these brands with the elements of freedom, innovation and creativity. “Fashion has to go with time. If fashion does not go with time, fashion would be lost,” he staunchly believed. Karl was decipherable for his distinct style statement which comprised of a white ponytail, dark suits, signature tinted glasses, high starched white collars, and fingerless leather gloves.
Paying an ode to fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld
A true ‘workaholic’ as he liked to call it, Karl is also renowned for taking his catwalks the most unconventional places like the Great Wall of China and airport terminal and many places you couldn’t think of.
However, despite being a fashion connoisseur, he was even despised from many corners of the world for the controversial statements that he made. His outrageous and outspoken behaviour cared less for anything and making peace with controversies came easily to him. Karl was seen to be a frequent target of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) for using fur.
Hailing his roots from Hamburg, Germany, Karl Lagerfeld was born with an indomitable will and an ambitious spirit. At a tender age of 14 years, he took the bold decision of moving to Paris and ever since then, there has been no turning back. He started his professional stint as Pierre Balmain’s assistant, who quickly took his winning illustration to production. After two years, he moved to work with French fashion designer Jean Patou and began designing two haute couture collections per year. “I am a fashion persona and fashion is not only about clothes – it’s about all kinds of change,” believed Karl. His skirt designs for the Spring/Summer 1960 season was dubbed the shortest to have been seen in Paris. A career break was calling for Karl, who took two years away from Paris to spend his time mostly on beaches. “I guess I studied life,” he exhorted.
Later, he embarked on a freelance career, starting with Tiziani & Valentino and eventually with French fashion house Chloé. In 1965, Karl was offered the position of creative director at luxury Italian house Fendi and was subsequently appointed as head designer at Chloé, with key customers including Grace Kelly, Brigitte Bardot, and Jackie Kennedy.
“Don’t dress to kill, dress to survive,” was certainly his success mantra for all this while. He was also the brain behind the signature ‘CC’ monograph that Chanel has been known for. In 2004, he became the first high-fashion designer to collaborate with high street retailer H&M, designing a capsule collection that sold out on the first day of its release. One year later, Karl sold his own eponymous label to Tommy Hilfiger, under the agreement that he can continue with full creative control at the brand.
Throughout his journey, he received an array of awards and accolades to his credit including the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Fashion Awards and Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award by The Fashion Institute of Technology. As destiny would have it, Karl died of pancreatic cancer on 19 February 2019 in Paris.
However, Karl Lagerfeld continues to be an immortal icon in the fashion industry and an epitome of creativity.