Word came very early this morning from Paris that Karl Lagerfeld has passed but words seemed redundant to describe what Mr. Lagerfeld represented in the modern era – simply put he was the Leonardo da Vinci of our times.
Karl Lagerfeld was known principally as the creative director/designer at Chanel, a role he held for life since 1982, with a mission to rejuvenate the house’s heritage. He brought the classic tweeds suits, the 2.55 quilted bags, the two tone leather shoes, and the costume pearl jewelries into relevance among a younger consumer by blending Chanel’s icons with the moods of the moment whether they be rock’n’roll, surfing, space robots, hippies, goths or punks. His fashion show spectacles for Chanel at the Grand Palais were unforgettable and now edged onto the iconography of modern fashion from the iceberg (Fall 2010), the rocket ship (Fall 2017), a Monaco casino (Fall 2015 Haute Couture), the Tour Eiffel (Fall 2017 Haute Couture), a life size cruise ship (Resort 2019), a computer board (Spring 2017), a supermarket (Fall 2014 ), a business class plane cabin (Spring 2012 Haute Couture), a beach (Spring 2019), the Tuileries gardens (Spring 2018 Haute Couture), and the last one this past January, an Italian Mediterranean villa. On each of these grand stages, Lagerfeld adapted the idea of Chanel to the 21stcentury with the requisite fashion quotient and backdrop for the digital age.
Besides also being the designer at Fendi since 1965, Lagerfeld worked on Chloé since 1964, launched his own label in 2002, collaborated with H&M in 2004 and designed condos in Florida at Sunny Isles Beach. Photographer, artist, and intellect, he collected books on cultures, arts, architecture, design, history and philosophies and opened a specialized bookshop 7L in 1999 selling monographs on the arts some of which he published. His knowledge of art and history rivaled that of any museum curators. There wasn’t any aspect of contemporary culture that Lagerfeld hadn’t touch from Magnum ice cream, Gilet Jaunes highway safety, condominiums, Coca Cola, video games, hotels, and too many to name them all. Above all of his enterprises, Lagerfeld was a prolific fashion designer whose lifetime of output has no competition and whose heritage will survive and be adapted going forward. His absence will be felt strongly in the fashion world that has never really been without Karl Lagerfeld.