Everything to Know About the Late German Fashion Designer, Karl Lagerfeld

Mon May 08 2023
By   tashi

Karl Lagerfeld was a pioneering fashion designer: The 2023 Met Gala celebrates the late designer!  

The 2023 fashion extravaganza- Met Gala, held at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Likewise, the event was held on May 1 and embodied the late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's stunning work. While many came dressed fittingly for the star-studded event, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, a large number weren't thrilled with the decision to honor Karl.  

During his career spanning over seven decades, Karl revolutionized some of the most revered brands, including Chanel and Fendi. Although he is considered one of the most famous designers, Lagerfeld's controversial past doesn't make him a very likable figure. 

Karl Lagerfeld's Early Life!   

The wealthy businessman, Otto Lagerfeld and his wife gave birth to Karl Otto Lagerfeld on September 10, 1933, in Hamburg, Germany. The iconic fashion designer was weirdly known for misrepresenting his birth year. Karl's penchant and inimitable knack for fashion came to life after his family emigrated to France in the 50s.   

Karl Lagerfeld was a German fashion designer.
Karl Lagerfeld is one of the most revered names in the fashion world. 
Photo Source: Instagram

The Hamburg-born designer once recalled how he found his calling after witnessing a Dior show as a kid. Karl won a design competition in 1954, which landed him the opportunity to assist Pierre Balmain. 

Like any ambitious man, Lagerfeld spent much of his early career honing his skills under the preceding designers. After spending three formidable years at Balmain's, Lagerfeld worked as the artistic director for Jean Patou, under whom he designed ten haute couture collections.

Lagerfeld's early career also included a brief stint at Tiziano and freelancing for other brands like Chloé, Valentino, and Krizia.   

Karl Lagerfeld's Rise to Fame!  

Karl Lagerfeld's unaffiliated work with several brands was followed by the designer landing the high-profile job of a consultant director at Fendi in 1967. But it took Karl at least a decade more to gain international recognition.  

Karl Lagerfeld rose to fame as the creative director of Chanel.
Lagerfeld is credited for reviving Chanel after being appointed as the creative director. 
Photo Source: Instagram

Lagerfeld was appointed the creative director at Chanel when the French fashion house was on the brink of ruin! After Coco Chanel died, the luxury brand faced some serious trouble. Chanel's chairman, Alain Wertheimer, reportedly asked Karl to redeem the brand. 

The Hamburg-born recalls how he was advised against the offer by many, but he took it as a challenge. Lagerfeld not only revived Chanel but also subverted its late ideals with a touch of modern designs. 

Lagerfeld's most iconic additions to Chanel couture include bouclé tweed, pearls, dual-toned footwear, and most notably, the interlocking C's monogram, which now represents the brand globally.  

Karl's contribution to the legacy wasn't single-fold. The German designer was responsible for executing the brand's métiers d’art, runway shows. He used to portray the geniuses of brands owned by Chanel, including Desrues, Lessage, and Barrie Knitwear.    

Karl Lagerfeld founded his namesake brand and sold it to Tommy Hilfiger.
Karl Lagerfeld founded his eponymous brand in 1984.
 Photo Source: Instagram

After a 12-year-long stint at Chanel, Lagerfeld fulfilled his lifelong dream! Karl began his own eponymous "Karl Lagerfeld" brand. Given his credibility and established profile, Karl's fashion house was an immediate hit in the industry. 

Lagerfeld sold his namesake brand to Tommy Hilfiger Group in 2005. However, Karl retained his position as the chief creative.  

Why is Karl Lagerfeld Controversial?  

Yes, Karl Lagerfeld is a revered figure for fashion enthusiasts and the industry. The German designer's name stimulates anger and opposition in many. 

Lagerfeld is just a disputed persona because of the designer's regressive opinions and how he spewed them loudly and proudly.   

Karl Lagerfeld often made problematic comments.
Karl Lagerfeld was accused of being fatphobic and Islamophobic.
 Photo Source: Instagram 

The pioneering fashion designer often targeted women and fashion models for their weight. Moreover, Karl was accused of being Islamophobic. 

In his 2005 book The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, Karl boasts about losing 92 pounds in a year. He infamously goes on to link fashion with a slim physique in his controversial book.

A slew of A-list women who fell victim to Lagerfeld's fatphobic comments were model Heidi Klum, singer Adele, and Lana Del Rey. The iconic designer even expressed his annoyance at the #metoo movement.

Karl's vile statement read, "If you don't want your pants pulled about, don't become a model! Join a nunnery."    

Many protested this year's Lagerfeld-themed Gala! 

Hence, when the 2023 Met Gala was said to be featuring the late designer's work, many influential people took to several platforms to protest the decision. 

The founder of model alliance, Sara Ziff, said the choice to exhibit Karl's work shows the industry's duality, where they deem to be progressive and pay tribute to a figure like Karl, on the other.  

"This man... was indeed, supremely talented, but used his platform in such a distinctly hateful way, mostly towards women," model Jameela Jamil wrote. 

L’Oreal Global Ambassador Nidhi Sunil, models Mamé Adjei, Rozi Levine, Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal, and many held an in-person protest ahead of the event on Sunday.  

Was Karl Lagerfeld Married?  

Karl Lagerfeld didn't marry anyone and left behind no child. The fashion mogul's love life was as ambiguous. It was a riddle when he was alive and continues to be one after his death. 

Lagerfeld didn't date anyone in his life nor sparked any dating rumors. The German designer, however, reckoned that he had experienced love.   

Karl Lagerfeld dated Jacques de Bascher for almost twenty years.
The fashion icon dated French dandy Jacques de Bascher for twenty years. 
Photo Source: Instagram

Lagerfeld's greatest love, to whom he remained loyal until his death, was a French dandy named Jacques de Bascher. Karl and Jacques were together for twenty years before the latter's unfortunate death at age 38 in 1989. 

Lagerfeld later revealed that their relationship never turned physical, and it was only pure love.  

"I infinitely loved that boy but I had no physical contact with him," said the mogul, who would often credit his late partner for being his muse. Karl added, "Of course, I was seduced by his physical charm." Karl stood by his partner's side even after Jacques's affair with Yves Saint Laurent. "I didn't hold him accountable. I only wanted to see the bright side of Jacques," said the late icon.   

Lagerfeld had no biological children, though he loved and pampered his cat, Choupette, as one. The iconic cat was the go-to costume choice for many stars at the Met Gala. Lagerfeld was a godfather to model Brad Kroenig's son, Hudson Kroenig. Karl died after a secret cancer battle in 2019.

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