Monday 21 October 2019

Karl Lagerfeld: The man who was the ‘soul of fashion’

The designer often hit the headlines because of his controversial quotes.

Karl Lagerfeld poses for photographers in front of his books (Martin Meissner/AP)
Karl Lagerfeld poses for photographers in front of his books (Martin Meissner/AP)

By Sherna Noah and Katie Wright, Press Association

With his dark sunglasses and white hair worn in a ponytail, Karl Lagerfeld was one of the most distinctive faces in the fashion world.

But for those in the know, he was the hardest working man in the industry.

He was head of Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label and produced around 15 collections a year.

Lagerfeld, who drew his own designs by hand, transformed Chanel’s fortunes following the start of his association with the company in 1983.

Karl Lagerfeld with Vogue’s Anna Wintour (Ian West/PA)

He embraced celebrities such as the Kardashians and celebrity models while not losing touch with Chanel’s heritage.

And he often hit the headlines because of his controversial quotes.

The German fashion guru described pop star Adele as “a little too fat” during an interview.

Letting rip, he called Russian men “ugly” and said the British royal family was “unnecessary”.

He worked with H&M before such collaborations became a staple of the high street.

Nicole Kidman wearing a dress by Karl Lagerfeld (William Conran/PA)

Lagerfeld, who was born in Hamburg but left for Paris when he was 17, was known for putting on a huge spectacle at his Chanel couture shows.

He imported an entire iceberg one year, built a Chanel supermarket, a casino, and, last season, a beach – complete with waves and even lifeguards.

He cited different years for his birth and, in his 80s, was designing an average of 14 new collections a year.

As recently as last year he paired up with Cindy Crawford’s 17-year-old daughter, Kaia Gerber, for his own brand.

His image – with his black clothes and starched collars – was so recognisable that a high-price Karl Barbie doll was created in his honour.

“I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask,” he said, while also stating that “sweatpants are a sign of defeat”.

His cat, Choupette, has its own Twitter page, with 49,000 followers.

Lagerfeld won Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Fashion Awards in 2015, where US Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour said he “represents the soul of fashion – restless, forward-looking and voraciously attentive to our changing culture”.

PA Media

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