The death of Karl Lagerfeld on February 19, 2019 coincides with an era that slowly starts at sunset. Era of great artists, able to leave with their creations recognizable and indelible personal imprints in history and collective memory.
Artists far from a global world that is always accessible and often sadly banal, which in many cases no longer offers anything original and would like us all to be the same.
An almost mythical character with an image halfway between a “pop shepherd” and a rock star, whom we will always remember dressed in a finely impeccable way, always wearing dark glasses, trousers, black tie jacket and high starched white shirt collars.
Karl Lagerfeld: the beginnings of the myth
Karl Lagerfeld makes his entree into the fashion world at just 19. Shortly after arriving in Paris in 1954, he won the “Secretariat international de la laine” award organized by Woolmark , reaching first place ex aequo with Yves Saint-Laurent .
During his long and productive existence, his career as a stylist crosses the most important names and maisons.
An extraordinary ability to adapt to the different footprints and traditions of each fashion house, bringing its own personal artistic touch.
His collaborations have been so many that he is defined as a freelance stylist. He said about himself:
“I love to consider myself a“ freelance ”. This word is the union of “free”, free, as I always wanted to be, and “lance”, which recalls the French word “lance”, as a coveted courtesan was once defined. I feel like this, free and mercenary “.
Noticed by Balmain , in 1955 he became his personal assistant. Three years later, he was appointed artistic director of the Maison Jean Patou . In 1963 the collaboration with the Chloe brand begins , at its peak.
His career takes off
Between Paris and Rome, Karl Lagerfeld actively participates in the birth of one of the greatest fashion revolutions: the birth of pret-a-porter collections .
With Fendi , he began working in 1964 with the fur product, a collaboration that lasted more than half a century, a unique longevity in fashion and which will probably remain an unbeaten record.
His career reached its peak in 1983, when he was offered the artistic direction of Chanel , then with big financial problems, a name to which Karl would tie his whole life.
Karl Lagerfeld completely envelops Chanel in his magnificent talent, bringing a breath of fresh and bubbly air that allows the brand to re-spread its wings, reaffirming its dominance in the world of luxury and fashion.
The passion for photography and the years in Chanel
These are also the years in which Lagerfeld begins to express himself more with the artistic medium of photography .
Dissatisfied with the advertising images created for Chanel, he embarks on a parallel career by directly shooting the photographic services for the Maison’s catalogs and campaigns. He later extended this activity as a photographer to other brands or magazines.
The enormous personal success and consensus on the part of the public as Chanel’s artistic director lies in having chosen to consistently maintain the spirit and style of the Maison, for example almost always using black and white. During all 36 years of working at Chanel, Karl has continually modernized the heritage of the brand giving it new breath and panache, while always preserving and protecting its soul.
He said of Coco Chanel:
“My job is not to do what he did, but what he could have done. Chanel is an idea, which can be reinterpreted indefinitely. “
For each collection, season by season, Lagerfeld has translated and reinterpreted the moods of the time, social trends and street styles in Chanel style .
Evening jackets are filled with sparkling sequins, gym leggings are worn under elegant outerwear, necklaces become big gold chains in a hip hop style , even launches the ski and surf line.
Each fashion show with him becomes the creative event of the fashion week not to be missed.
Spectacular defiles that transform Grand Palais into a giant supermarket, a podium in an art gallery or a launch pad for rockets.
The last years of his career
In the 2000s he was closely linked to Hedi Slimane , a talented young designer who proposed a slim silhouette for the Dior Homme collections that greatly influenced the change in the history of men’s fashion .
Karl lost 43 kg to enter his friend’s creations, later writing a book on the diet followed. In 2004, the capsule collection created for H&M sold out in just 2 days.
Couturier, designer, publisher, director, photographer, artist, collector, tireless reader in 4 languages… a genius!
Karl Lagerfeld has often been described with redundant terms: the master of fashion, the sacred monster of fashion, indisputably brilliant, as Vogue writes.
Loved by stars and princesses, an artistic mix of rigor and fantasy.
I design BMW cars, hotel projects, design safes, pianos, objects, design products, and of course I also create my own fashion brand in 1980.
I invent the term “Karlism” to indicate his philosophy of life. Never look back, always live in the present and considered, without half measures, a failure:
“My secret to living well? Don’t take yourself too seriously. I laugh at myself and I don’t consider myself an intellectual or an artist: I’m just a fashion creator ”.
We will miss you Karl Lagerfeld. A genius, a fashion creator, a myth!