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Karl Lagerfeld: A Fashion Icon (1933-2019)

February 28, 2019

Karl Lagerfeld, German fashion designer and creative director behind high-end brands such as Chanel and Fendi, passed away Tuesday, Feb. 19 in Paris at the age of 85. Lagerfeld left behind a legacy of iconic fashion lines with his designs, and impacted the industry as a creative genius. Best known for making Chanel the classic and couture brand it currently is today, Lagerfeld set hundreds of fashion trends and helped make Paris the fashion capital of the world. His signature look, dark sunglasses, a white collar and finger gloves, demonstrated his chic yet fierce persona. Lagerfeld transformed the industry with his classic view of style and a deep understanding of high fashion.

“Without having to utter a single word, he commanded an awe-inspiring attention that was hard to ignore,” Jillian Sanz, Editor-in-Chief for Toys for Boys Magazines, said. “The reality is that, he knew who he was — his kind of confidence was the kind that only comes with the knowing that you’re one in a million; and he was”.

Lagerfeld began his career at a very early start. At the age of 18, he entered and won a competition for a coat design and not long after, worked with famous names such as Balmain and Chloé. He then became the creative director for the Italian luxury fashion brand, Fendi, in 1965. He worked as the creative director for Fendi for 54 years — the longest fashion collaboration in history. He defined the Roman brand and made it into an iconic luxury powerhouse. Lagerfeld ultimately went to conquer Chanel in 1983 and a year later, created his own name brand.

As fashion month comes to an end, Lagerfeld’s career in Fendi came to a close as well on Thursday, Feb. 21. The brand held its final show with the work of the late creative director in Milan, commemorating his contribution to the brand. The show held a special tribute to Lagerfeld, with the words “Love, Karl” in his own handwriting placed above the runway and a video celebrating their five-decade-long collaboration together.

“Mr. Lagerfeld was a visionary,” Sanz said. “He was the deciding captain for multiple ships, always guiding them towards a glorious destination.”

For all of these brands, Lagerfeld found much success and deep admiration by critics. He organized extravagant showings at supermarkets, airports, and even at the Great Wall of China. However, he was not only known for his creative mind in fashion, but for his creativity in the photography world as well. After news of his death, the Galerie Gmurzynska in Zurich, Switzerland announced an homage to the designer’s photography. The gallery aims to capture the full realm of Lagerfeld’s photographic variety, from street photography to various celebrity portraits.

“There will never be another Karl Lagerfeld. The world will forever refer to the collections going forward as those that were Karl’s and those that weren’t,” Sanz said on a lasting note.

For over half of a century, Lagerfeld touched the hearts of many inside and outside of the fashion industry. His solitary, chic and creative persona has resulted in a global empire under his name. His legacy will be remembered by millions and fashion will be forever changed by his legendary contributions to the industry.

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