This is an exceptionally sad day in fashion for many reasons. Karl Lagerfeld was a huge force in the fashion industry not only because of his fashion but because of his incredible energy level. He headed many aspects of the fashion business and of course his most famous was heading Maison Chanel. He, alone, brought back the Maison from the depths of Mme. Chanel’s death with updating, and making the Chanel jacket a phenomenon again of the 2000s and 2010s. His artistic effect will be felt though out the fashion industry.
M. Lagerfeld headed not only Maison Chanel as the artistic director but also worked at one of the top design jobs at the LVMH (an upcoming blog on that firm) luxury label, Fendi since 1977. He apprenticed for Balmain and later hired by Maison Patou. For a while, he was designing at Chanel, his own firm label, Chloe, and Fendi. The guy was a veritable work-horse.
His effect on fashion cannot be minimalized. Although Mme. Chanel created the version on the left, Karl (albeit highly characterized here) created the version on the right, and to such an extent that it became a fashion icon as much as it was in the 1950s!
He was hugely outspoken and sometimes it riled a lot of people, but the truth is he was right most of the time. Sweatpants really ARE a sign you’ve given up. Now it doesn’t mean that some genius designer will come up with a version that will be all the rage (I think that version today is leggings), but for Lagerfeld’s time now, this is so true!
You may not always have to agree with what he said, but that didn’t matter, and basically, we all forgave him for some outrageous comments. But his fashion design really spoke volumes.
My favorite quote from Lagerfeld, I cannot find, but it went something like this:
“Everyone and their chicken’s goose can make a quilted jacket, it is the trim that makes it Chanel.” And he was so right. Ever since I heard that, when I teach the jacket that is one of the things that deserves as much attention as the choice of fabric and the fitting of the jacket. This is what makes it look truly couture. It even differentiates it from the RTW versions of the Chanel jacket.
He pioneered so many looks, but for me, his most genius was the Chanel jacket that he revived. And he did this in such a way that it’s very difficult to be copied. One of the things that a couture Maison must do is make looks that are hard to copy. It doesn’t prevent them from being copied, but it makes the copy obvious that it is a copy.
And of course, part of what made him fun were his outrageous quotes.
I’m left with the thought that although he will be horribly missed and there will be a huge vacuum in the fashion world now, there must be something going on at Chanel that the creative directors live a very long life, as Chanel herself lived a long life. Maybe it was simply that they both loved designing and couldn’t wait to do a new design or collection. I hope so, cause that means that both their lives were fulfilled and happy.
Goodbye M. Lagerfeld – you will be missed.
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