Life&Style Writer Josie Hart pays tribute to fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld and discusses how his legacy will be remembered
“Don’t dress to kill, dress to survive.” – Karl Lagerfeld
However controversial some of his statements may have been, Karl Lagerfeld cannot be denied as a fashion icon who, both himself and through his designs, left a legacy to remember. Described as one of the most influential designers of the 20thand 21stcentury, Lagerfeld left his mark on Chanel, Fendi, Chloe and his own namesake brand throughout his years as a designer. Friends and fans alike have shared their tributes this week as the announcement of his death shook the industry, fittingly placed at the end of London Fashion Week. In commemoration we look back on the clothes, the image and the most iconic moments we can owe to the works of a true talent.
Whilst we can’t owe timeless classics like the LBD and pearl embellishment to Karl; he took Chanel with both hands and continued to evolve what Coco began, not being to afraid to update and change with the times to maintain it as the big label it is today. He said himself that Coco Chanel herself would not have liked the direction in which he took her brand, but we can owe the continued popularity of the quilted chain bag and tweed jacket to Lagerfeld.
Whilst maintaining and modernising the designs we most strongly relate to Chanel and associated brands, the hardworking designer can be said to have been ahead of his time when it comes to recognising the way the wider world was headed and how the fashion industry could reflect that. Take for example broadcasting his shows through social media, staging demonstrations on the runway or homing ready-to-wear collections in an elaborate data centre. He was clearly headstrong and intelligent and used his work and platform to project his voice.
Perhaps the most unforgettable presentations of the workings of Lagerfeld’s creative mind lie not in the clothes but in the sets in which he created them. It’s no wonder that Chanel was the hot ticket of each show season with audiences anticipating what he could possibly do next. From turning Paris’ Grand Palais into a beach with lapping waves and sand to having a huge rocket set off from the centre of the iconic building, he knew how to make his shows the most talked about and broadcast around. Whilst unlike the likes of Kaia Gerber and Pamela Anderson, we may not be heading to the beach in a tailored skirt suit, it was always intriguing to see the glamourous, elusive world created in Lagerfeld’s head.
He really was the master of keeping himself and his brands relevant throughout their years. Even devising his own image to aid in the endeavour. From the powdery white ponytail to the matching white cat, Choupette, who never left his side, matched with his unforgettable black sunglasses and single glove. In fact, Lagerfeld wore glasses due to his short sightedness but even played this into his image. Never shying away from sparking controversy, Lagerfeld himself was as vital to the brand as his creations.
It’s therefore difficult to envisage the future of his legacy. Where will Chanel or even the Karl Lagerfeld brand go from here? The fashion world watches intently who will be next in line and how the brands will progress from the loss of a pacemaker of the industry, an icon and an undeniable talent.