Today Karl Lagerfeld is a dominant and iconic figure within the fashion industry. His talent and fierce hard-work made him almost a legend so much so that he once compared himself to the Lacoste crocodile.
Despite his austere appearance, he is widely respected not only as a fashion designer but also a fashion photographer and publisher.
Lagerfeld started as an apprentice at Pierre Balmain in 1955, and having worked for an impressive raft of brands from Jean Patou to Chloé and Valentino, he found his home at Chanel and Fendi.
“When I come up with an idea, I see something and I do it. I see nothing else.”
This drive and enthusiasm granted him a lifetime contract with Chanel so it’s up to him when he leaves the fashion house, to say this is an impressive achievement is an understatement.
Chanel has a minimum of six collections per year and with all the wide range of work that he does, you cannot help but thinking that this is the result of an amazing discipline probably due to his German roots.
He disagrees. “I’m just natural – discipline is when you make an effort, and I make no effort at all. And if you must, you should make it look effortless.”
This may sound like a cliché but the secret is he loves what he does. Once I saw a documentary about him and thought he was quite unique, with a mind of his own and his world merged totally with fashion, it’s as if they became one.
Just as US Vogue’s editor, Anna Wintour, Lagerfeld is accused of being glacial. He refuted this by saying some people need a glacial façade to protect themselves and emotions are far too overrated.
Lagerfeld, like Lou Andreas-Salomé, thinks one should manage his own traumas, depressive states and mood swings.
(Lou Andreas-Salomé had a platonic relationship with Nietzsche and only lost her virginity when she was 38 years old. In a letter to her lover, Paul Reé, she wrote that it’s better not to submit to psychoanalysis because this kills creativity.)
You always get impressed with Lagerfeld's own take on everything, he’s always surprising like his collections, endlessly reinventing the Chanel look.
Today he celebrates his 73rd birthday.