Now celebrating his 80th birthday, Karl Lagerfeld remains as one of those exceedingly phenomenal and influential figures in the fashion industry.
You simply cannot miss Karl Lagerfeld. His trademark white hair, black glasses, high starched collars and necktie pin have made him easily identifiable even in a sea of glitterati. The German fashion designer, artist and photographer now sits as the head designer and creative director for Chanel and Fendi, on top of having his own fashion house.
He was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt in Hamburg, Germany, on September 10, 1933. He later changed his last name to ”Lagerfeld,” dropping the t, for its decidedly more commercial appeal.
Lagerfeld was the son of a wealthy businessman. He attended private school and took major studies in drawing and history at Paris’ Lycee Montaigne.
He worked for French fashion designer Pierre Balmain after winning a design competition. He also designed haute couture for Jean Patou. From 1963 to 1969, he designed for Roman couture house Tiziani and did freelance work for French fashion house Chloe as early as 1964. It was in 1972 when his collaboration with Fendi began. He stayed with Chloe, as well as other freelance projects, until he took over as Chanel’s design director in 1983.
Karl Lagerfeld is known for his involvement in various fashion and art related projects. He has collaborated with Charles Jourdan, Ballantyne, Trevira, Diesel, and even H&M. As a photographer, he produced Visionaire 23: The Emperor’s New Clothes, a series of nudes of models and celebrities. He has photographed Mariah Carey for the cover of a magazine, and shoots for the advertising campaigns of the fashion houses he handles, on top of his editorial work for several fashion glossies.
Despite many controversies, Karl Lagerfeld is undeniably a fashion visionary, a creative force that continues to move and shake the fashion industry even after half a century. A glorious celebration to the Kaiser of his own fashion empire!