REMEMBERING AN ICON - THANK YOU, KING KARL

Karl lagerfeld death aged 85 obituary

"Whatever it is, good or bad, it influences fashion. You can see that in fashion quicker than in any other thing going on. Fashion is something that reflects our lives and times with the shortest release, because, cars, design and architecture take years to realise." - Karl Lagerfeld


It's an incredibly odd feeling when your heroes die. 

We expect them to be immortal, don't we? Untouchable. And I think there was no one who embodied this more than Mr Karl Lagerfeld. The unmistakeable powder white pony tail, dark glasses, high white collared shirts and leather gloves gave him an almost vampiric appearance. There was something stoic about it, and indeed iconic; and his eccentricities and crafted persona were a constant source of curiosity. As he famously said himself, ""I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.". That only added to the mystique of the man. 

Eerily, on Monday, I was lucky enough to attend a talk with the Head of Chanel Europe, Dr Berndt Hauptkorn, and the Head of Chanel Retail Operations and Innovation, Charlotte Bizard, who gave us an insight into the brand. It was incredible to learn about the mechanisms of the Chanel machine, the deep passion of the people working there, and the man at the heart of it all, Mr Lagerfeld. I remember chatting to the girl sitting next to me about our love of Karl, and I remember remarking, 'I just can't imagine Chanel without Karl, he better live forever.'

Karl has had a profound impact on me personally. I vividly remember discovering high fashion around the age of 12 or 13, and immediately falling in love with Chanel. Discovering their awe-inducing fashion shows around this age sparked my love of fashion. In the summer holidays my Mum would take us to London for day trips, and I remember asking her to take us to Selfridges so that I could see a Chanel classic flap in real life. Safe to say it was love at first sight. I had never realised that fashion could be so much more than just the clothes. It became about selling a lifestyle, an attitude, a dream. It was the first time I felt an emotional connection with a brand and its heritage. I was desperate to be a Chanel woman. To have a tweed suit and classic flap, a piece of fashion history. To totter around in slingbacks and a red lip. In a large part that was down to Karl Lagerfeld. He was able to keep the vision of Gabrielle alive, and to establish this: that to be a Chanel woman is to be eternally fashionable. 

One of my favourite things about Karl was his ability to carve out his own creative niche within houses with such rich, pre-existent cultural heritages, without ever impinging upon the brand DNA itself. To do that continuously for over half a century as he did was truly unmatched. 14 collections a year requires a level of creative energy that we can only imagine. The greatest fashion polyglot - let us not forget his work for Fendi, ChloĆ©, and his own eponymous label. But of course, it is Chanel that stands out. I think this is because few people have the ability to become as synonymous with a brand as the brand founder themselves. Karl was one of those few. Ms. Gabrielle Chanel created something radical, but Karl gave it longevity. 

I always thought that Karl would never stop. That he would work right to the end. And he really did. Karl once said, on retirement: "Why should I stop working? If I do, I'll die and it'll be all finished." It is almost as though he couldn't stop. This is a man that lived and breathed fashion. Indeed, he once remarked, "I design like I breathe. You don't ask to breathe, it just happens." If he ever burnt out or felt stuck in a designing rut, it was unnoticeable, the enormous back catalog of ingenuity showcased in his work is simply testament to this. 

Thank you, Karl, for the memories. Your creations have given me and so many others such joy. Who can ever forget the genius of 90s Chanel?! Every fashion month, I would be excited to see what Karl had created next, and I was seldom disappointed. Watching interviews with the man was always fascinating. A wonderful sense of humour (who can ever forget the famous line: "Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants"!), as well as some sharp-tongued quippings too. But ultimately, it was always perfectly clear to me that what Karl loved to do was make women look and feel beautiful. People see fashion as simply clothes, but its so much more than that. You understood that. It's a shared history, it's emotions, it's creating dreams. And, wow, did you create dreams bigger and brighter than any other. 

Fashion will miss you so much. Your eccentricity, your humour, your creative genius. Inimitable in the very truest sense of the word, you will be truly irreplaceable. 

"I am very much down to earth. Just not this earth." - Karl Lagerfeld

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