Like Marmite whether you love him or hate him it is undeniable that Karl Lagerfeld’s life has been characterised by success. He’s proved this time and time again with positive reviews on his shows and in 2015 when he claimed the Outstanding Achievement Award at the BFA’s, putting him on a par with other fashion legends such as American Vogue editor Anna Wintor and fashion designer Alexander McQueen.
Lagerfeld grew up in an isolated house in the German countryside. He came a long way in his 85?(did anyone ever find out his age?) years, and before his death he had led three major fashion houses- Chloé, Fendi and Chanel, in addition to creating his own label ‘KARL LAGERFELD’. His influence has led to international success, Natalie Massenet, chair of the British Fashion Council says ‘Karl Lagerfeld defines outstanding’ and she goes on to say ‘his life’s work for his own and so many extraordinary brands, has written the language of fashion.’
It may seem like an exaggeration to say he ‘has written the language of fashion’, however despite the various controversies he has caused by saying things like only ‘fat mothers eating out of the chip packet in front of the television’ stating that he finds thin models ugly and that time when he hired the Italian porn star Moana Pozzi to model his Fendi swimwear collection in 1993 causing Anna Wintour to walk out. However, his career showed a development, such as his 2014 cat walk shoe turned feminist protest.
Whilst some believed this was an attempt to jump on the feminist bandwagon he explained later that “I like the idea of feminism being something light-hearted, not a truck driver for the feminist movement." This fitted in with his refreshing outlook on life. This is the idea that everything he says is a joke, even he himself was a joke. Moreover, this show sparked discussion and took fashion out of its isolated runway context, this is perhaps part of the appeal which led to his huge following.
Despite Lagerfeld’s claims to have no marketing skills, he still managed to cleverly branded himself as an internationally recognisable figure with his white hair in a Mozart-esque pony-tail, designer shades just to hide his face, high white collar, black leather fingerless gloves and gothic style black trousers and blazer. He even made money off his pampered feline companion- Choupette, who has her own twitter account and eats better than the average Newcastle student.
Karl Lagerfeld’s success seems to have stemmed primarily from his ability to warp convention, as seen in Chanel’s spring/summer 2015 show. The clothes featured took inspiration from the modern world. Concrete inspired jewellery and clothing was unexpected yet not unpleasant and the collection also included a twist on the traditional Chanel jacket which had been turned into a bag. Another feature was the men’s style brogues given the feminine twist of a gold finish, peep toe and ballet ribbon style ankle fastenings. It’s these eccentricities in his style and his hand painted fabric designs that made Karl Lagerfeld stand out from other fashion designers, as well as his commitment to the fashion industry; his career began in 1959 and he has continued consistently contributing ever since.
A new designer for the house of Chanel is yet to be announced.