Anyone who begins his fashion career as an assistant to Pierre Balmain must be destined for greatness. That would certainly prove true for Karl Lagerfeld. Add stints at Jean Patou and Chloe and his eventual title of Creative Director at Fendi and Chanel, and his career seems touched by divinity. But Karl is so much more than titles at fashion houses. Karl innovates constantly, never loses touch with what’s new, and listens to no one but himself (and perhaps his cat, Choupette). At around eighty years old – he famously obfuscates his actual age – he has now influenced more than half a century of fashion worldwide.
The Karl Lagerfeld of today is an over-the-top fashion icon. The white hair tied in a ponytail, the black and white ensembles, and the ever present black sunglasses and gloves, only add to his chic mystique. His “look” is part uniform, part branding, and part crisp German perfectionism.
Some of his appeal stems from his unfiltered honesty and outrageous quotes. One of my personal favorites is, “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life and so you bought a pair of sweatpants.” I can’t even read that line without chuckling.
There is his almost equally famous cat, Choupette. Anyone with a beloved pet can appreciate his love and attention to Choupette, but because he’s Karl, he takes this love to an outlandish level. Choupette has two maids and gets her own hotel room when they travel. He’s said that he would marry Choupette if it were legal, adding, “I never thought I would fall in love like this with a cat”.
Karl, who famously invented the Fendi double F logo (which stands for “Fun Fur”) and who is an accomplished photographer and artist as well as a fashion designer, surprisingly dismisses the notion that fashion is art.
Equating fashion to art might be taking things just a bit too seriously for Karl. After all, this is the guy who said “Everything I say is a joke. I am a joke myself.”