“Karl was my magic dust, he transformed me from a shy German girl into a supermodel.” – Claudia Schiffer.
A revolutionary designer, writer, and photographer, German-born Karl Lagerfeld was equal parts revered as he was divisive, permanently transforming the contemporary fashion landscape over his storied 70-year career. Dubbed by the industry as “Kaiser Karl”, he was a figure whose presence was felt in every room he entered and left a lasting imprint on the fashion houses where he honed his craft, including Chloé (at which he had two separate tenures in the 60s and 90s), Fendi (from 1965), his own eponymous label and, most notably, Chanel, where he has served as Creative Director since 1983.
Displays of visual excess were norm du jour for the mind behind some of the most elaborate runway presentations in Fashion Week history – who could forget the time he transformed the Grand Palais into a beachside setting complete with breaking waves for Chanel’s SS 19 collection, or when he flew 700 guests of the brand to Cuba for a Resort 17 party in Old Havana? An invitation to one of his showcases was a passport to a different kind of reality; to a place where silver sequinned body suits and matching headpieces are perfectly acceptable bridal attire, feathers are an every day accoutrement and robot heads make comfortable bedfellows with pastel tweed two-pieces.
With Karl Lagerfeld’s passing at the age of 85, we celebrate his legacy and the impact his life and work had on so many with tributes from those who called him a friend, mentor and visionary.