Renowned for his iconic sunglasses, Kard Lagerfeld is the weird fashion elitist for many, but his legacy includes a lot more than his outlandish persona. As the Chanel chief designer for 31 years, his influence in the business is immense, but his accomplishments include a lot more.
Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion legacy has been recognized countless times, including in 2010, when he received the Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award from the Fashion Institute of Technology. From his creative involvement with brands such as Chloé and Fendi to his talents that include photography, here’s why Karl Lagerfeld is unique in the field of fashion.
Designing for Multiple Labels
Few big names in the fashion world can design simultaneously for multiple brands, but Karl Lagerfeld has juggled his position as Chanel with his own eponymous label, and also continued to design for Chloé until 1997, and still retains his position as artistic advisor for Fendi.
Bringing High Fashion to the Masses
A big part of Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion legacy, his 2004 collection for H&M was the beginning of a long series of successful collaborations between mass retailers and big designers. The collection was sold out in big cities within an hour, and he followed it with a collection for Macy’s, opening the door for countless other designers.
Breaking New Ground in the Perfume World
Up until 1975, perfumes were signature releases that represented the vision of a designer under their own label. Karl Lagerfeld made history with Chloé by becoming the first designer to create a perfume without having his own label. The feminine and romantic perfume was a big hit, and the designer ended up releasing more fragrances under his own name later on.
Shooting His Own Creations
While he’s mostly known as a designer, Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion legacy also includes his work as a fashion photographer and illustrator. In fact, the legendary figure has shot advertising campaigns every season not just for his own line, but also for Chanel and Fendi. His editorial work also includes “Visionaire 23: The Emperor’s New Clothes”, a series of celebrity and model nudes.
Cultivating an Aura of Mystery
Up until recently, the 81 year old designer never admitted to being born in 1933, preferring to hide his age. He’s also reclusive when he’s not promoting his own work, which he claims is the secret to his on going creativity. “People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory,” he explained.
Lacking a Unified Fashion Philosphy
Perhaps the most bizarre part of Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion legacy is the fact that he never developed a fashion philosophy that makes his creations instantly recognizable. Without a signature style, like most other big names in the business, Lagerfeld has used the fluidity in his work to reinvent Chanel again and again for new generations.
Designing for Coca-Cola
One of the few designers who silhouette became an iconic symbol, Karl Lagerfeld also put himself on Diet Coke bottles. The two campaigns designed and shot by Karl in 2010 and 2011 prove that his involvement in fashion truly broke new ground.
After claiming that “respect is not creative”, Lagerfeld face some criticism when reinventing the brand in the past 30 years. While keeping some iconic elements intact, the designer went into the opposite direction of Coco Chanel’s design philosophy, going for “more is more” and managing to keep the brand at the top of the fashion game.
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Designing the World’s First Fashion Island
One of the first designers to break into home collections, Karl Lagerfeld has also signed on to create limited edition homes on Isla Moda, a mad made island in Dubai and the world’s first dedicated fashion island.
Being Unappologetic about Weight
Calling Adele “a little too fat” was just one of Kagerfeld’s many controversies related to weight. In fact, Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion legacy also includes his own diet, which he used to drop 92 pounds in 13 months and which includes Diet Coke as one of the main food groups.