Karl Lagerfeld – the eclectic icon

World renowned for his white hair, black sunglasses and high starched collars, Karl Lagerfeld is a fashion force to be reckoned with.

Lagerfeld’s active imagination and creative playfulness has created a certain aura around him. From his real birth date to his parents’ heritage, Karl Lagerfeld is known to approach life with his own, very unique, spin; no one really ever gets the truth…

After winning a design competition and working for Balmain and then Jean Patou, it took Lagerfeld a considerable time to set the fashion world on fire. His early designs seemed too risqué for the late 1950s audience and his deep slashed necklines and open backs gained little support from fashion journalists.

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Audrey Hepburn wearing a Christian Dior dress (designed by Yves Saint Laurent)at Maxim’s, photographed by Richard Avedon for Harper’s Bazaar (September 1959); with her are Art Buchwald and two other models wearing gowns by Pierre Balmain and Jean Patou (it is most likely that the Jean Patou was designed by Karl Lagerfeld).


The early 60s were just as unkind to him, with his collections featuring far shorter skirts than any other in Paris and being categorised by the critics as ready-to-wear more than haute couture. After taking a break from designing, Lagerfeld fell back into the world of fashion design in 1963 and worked for Tiziani, a Roman couture house. Creating a ready-to-wear line of 90 outfits, the brand picked up Elizabeth Taylor as a fan. This seemed to be the catalyst Lagerfeld needed and the first steps of his route to success seemed to be, little by little, illuminating.

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Tiziani sketches for Elizabeth Taylor

Chloe, Fendi, Chanel

Designing for French fashion house Chloe, haute couture house, Curiel and collaborating with Fendi, Karl Lagerfeld had evidently carved his niche, and the fashion world finally understood and loved his designs. In 1983 he joined Chanel and started to create a significant impact, breathing new life into the brand. In the 1980s he integrated the interlocking ‘CC’ Chanel monograph into a style pattern for the House and he continues to reside at Chanel as head creative director.

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Paris Fashion Week, 2009


Although having successfully collaborated with H&M, Diesel, Macy’s and Falabella, Lagerfeld is keen to maintain his image as a high class, high luxury brand, fearing that lower end retail might taint his reputation. He has demonstrated himself to be passionate about all facets of design, not just fashion and counts photography, film direction and interior design among his talents. He has recently designed the lobbies of the Estates at Acqualina, a luxury development in Miami.

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Karl Lagerfeld for H&M
Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Designs for the Acqualina, Miami


Not one to shy away from controversy, Lagerfeld has had his fair share of the spotlight. From supporting real fur in fashion to calling Adele fat and criticising Pippa Middleton’s face, Lagerfeld has caused ripples across the industry. He caused Anna Wintour, editor of US Vogue, to walk out of his 1993 show after using strippers and an adult film star, and was the subject of a pieing from PETA, although a misjudged aim attacked Calvin Klein, rather than the desired target of Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Karl Lagerfeld ready to wear, summer 1993. IMAGE: Guy Marineau

Karl Lagerfeld

Now holding lines in ready-to-wear, bags, accessories and kids, Karl Lagerfeld’s fashion empire looks as strong as ever.

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon
Karl Lagerfeld’s range of accessories, clothing, bags, shoes and sunglasses.


His SS18 collection strikes “the perfect balance between classic and cosmopolitan”, mixing “playful charm with a timeless, sophisticated touch.”

Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon Karl Lagerfeld - the eclectic icon

Karl Lagerfeld has left his mark on the fashion industry, having imprinted his cutting-edge, aspirational and modern approach to style on his own collections as well as those he has creative direction over. This designer is far from done yet.