Earlier today, Chanel announced that Karl Lagerfeld passed away after a short illness. The beloved creative director of Chanel hardly needs any introduction here; Lagerfeld shaped the modern luxury industry and breathed life into the classic French fashion house. His passing is keenly felt here at PurseBop HQ.
The German designer was the creative director of Fendi since 1965 and Chanel since 1983. Even at the helm of both brands, he managed to keep their styles distinct—as well as that of his own label—over the years. Notably, he brought Chanel firmly into the late 20th century, modernizing the brand after it lost steam following Coco’s passing. The classic flap reissue? CC clasp? Boy Bag? All Lagerfeld. “My job is not to do what [Coco Chanel] did, but what she would have done,” he once said. “The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.”
More than that, he created a cult of personality around himself, as the ponytailed, gloved figure always donning dark glasses. (Famously, this figure became its own bag charm: the Fendi Carlito.) Throughout the years, he remained an enigma, about whom numerous books were written, and his celebrity extended beyond the world of fashion. Even his cat, the adorable Birman named Choupette, became a celebrity in her own right, with over 150,000 followers on Instagram.
In the hours since Chanel announced his passing, almost every Instagram account associated with fashion has put normal posts on hold. It’s all about Lagerfeld, with everyone from influencers and models to magazine editors and fashion designers. The deep respect the industry holds for Lagerfeld is undeniable.
In our handbag corner of the internet, @upcloseandstylish posted an especially nice tribute.
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Today we lost a legend – • Did you know that #KarlLagerfeld started his fashion journey as an assistant to #PierreBalmain? • Did you know that he moved to #JeanPatou in -58, were he went under the name #RolandKarl? In the spring of 1960 the skirts he designed was the shortest in #Paris and the collection was not well received. • Did you know that he started to freelance for #Chloé in -64, in the beginning he only designed a few pieces each season? • Did you know that he started at #Fendi in 1972 (the year varies though, some say -65) where he has stayed until the sad news hit today? “But it was #Chanel that propelled him to rock-star status as he sexed up the brand and lifted its profile with grandiose runway shows” as one obituary writes. He joined the house in 1983. In -84, when asked how he felt after a show he said – “I’m kind of a fashion nymphomaniac who never gets and orgasm”. • Did you know that he was the first designer to collaborate with H&M? A limited range of clothing, for men and women, that was released in 2004. He told CNN in 2011 – “I’m a walking label. My name is Labelfeld, not Lagerfeld”. • Did you know that his father was Swedish and his mother German? • Did you know that he spoke four languages? • Did you know that his cat, named Choupette, has over 100.000 followers on Instagram? • Did you know that his outspokenness got him into troubles at times? He told Vogue once – “I hate intellectual conversations with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion” and one of his most famous quotes is probably – “sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control, so you bought a pair of sweatpants” #RestInPeace “I’ve always known I was made to live this way, that I would be this sort of legend” – The World According to Karl
Lagerfeld’s successor at Chanel? Virginie Viard, the brand’s Deputy Artistic Director. She certainly has large shoes to fill, but we have confidence that Lagerfeld’s presence will be felt in Chanel’s designs for years to come.
How has Lagerfeld influenced your wardrobe, and the ways you think about luxury fashion in the twentieth century? We’ve love to hear how the beloved fashion icon has touched your life.
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Updated: February 19th, 2019