V Magazine Remembers Karl Lagerfeld

In the upsetting wake of Lagerfeld’s passing, we take a look back at the contributions of the illustrious force–to fashion and to culture.

Karl-Otto Lagerfeld- the man, the myth, the legend- died on February 18th at age 85. Creative director for a trifecta of brands, Chanel, Fendi, and namesake- Karl Lagerfeld- the German designer was aged beyond his years. That is to say, his aesthetic and styling have enraptured fashion cocker spaniels, acting as a mentor to the likes of models Gigi Hadid and Kaia Gerber to reality television-turned business entrepreneurs and social activists, the Kardashians. Recently he walked hand-in-hand with godson, Hudson Kroenig, down the runway at Chanel’s Métiers de Art show – an independent addition to fashion week shows that honors Coco’s founding principle of craftsmanship with skills honed to this day in workshops. Singlehandedly achieving the status equivalent to the MET Gala, Lagerfeld enraptured the hearts and minds across disciplines, even dabbling in comedy by citing different birth years at interviews. Be it a man of mystery, or a man he had no shortage of spirit and his cognition only seemed to sharpen with age as he continued to executed his ideas at the helm of three brands until his final days in Paris.

Arguably the original Godfather, not only to Hudson, but also to high fashion, Lagerfeld not only debuted Lily Rose Depp and the aforementioned Gerber, but can also be credited with solidifying V Magazine into the prestigious inner fashion publication circle. For one of our initial issues, the sleek, silver-haired fox with a pulled back ponytail and dressed in a monochromatic black uniform – a pair of impossibly dark sunnies and fingerless leather driving-gloves – manned the camera to shoot fashion legends in their own right: the late Franca Sozzani of Vogue Italia and Carine Roitfield of Vogue Paris.

Despite Lagerfeld’s penchant for mystifying journalists and spectators, blending into the background as it were, his presence never failed to permeate and precede him. He opened Chanel’s batman cave aka 31 Rue Cambon, to the new-monied class that included musicians, Mariah Carey, Miley Cyrus, and Justin Bieber. He pioneered backstage documentation for public consumption: In-action beauty shops, model casting boards, hair hiccups, and scurrying seamstresses, hidden from the rows of fashion consumers. For V11, he photographed Heidi Slimane’s backstage dynamics for Dior.

Curator of the MET’s Costume Institute, Andrew Bolton, told V that haute couture was anything but a dying art because it’s a school of thought that continued to be passed unto younger hands – a hallmark of Chanel. He refers to the youth in connection to Karl: They that personal connection with it—the dialogue, the day-to-day access. It’s not a new art form, but what they’re doing is modern. It’s like what Karl Lagerfeld does in his leatherwork and embroidery: he makes it look entirely contemporary,” Bolton said in regards to youth.

Lagerfeld also transcended socioeconomic lines – appealing and shocking the elite, inviting high fashion consumers with less fiscal resources at storied department stores like Lord & Taylor, and most recently, credited with the initial boutique store collaborations when in 2004 H&M teamed up with a luxury fashion designer for the first time to create a capsule collection. The move marked the first of many duos thereafter, creating a limited edition phenomenon equivalent to a category once designated for playing cards.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, Lagerfeld’s strict father relocated north with his second wife, his mother, during World War 2. It was here that he attended a school where day in and day out, he was made to wear a mandatory uniform. Holding a grudge against his father, he bonded with his mother who he credits for his equally keen wit and quick of mind. He ventured to Paris during adolescence and without formal training, submitted a coat to what we now know as the International Woolmark Prize competition, and then known as the International Wool Secretariat, where he won. He was welcomed by Balmain thereafter, and after some more apprenticeships, decided to freelance during the 60s – a radical postmodern initiative.

Lagerfeld’s global reach never replaced his refined European tastes, instead bearing missionary status behind his sunglasses. For example, his photography of Roman artifacts were reproduced into wall etchings as part of his debut interior design work in the U.S. Karl spearheaded the layout of the lobbies at Estates at Acqualina, located on Miami Beach. He fancied himself the “first impression” of the edifice and the conduit between its dwellers because he defined the lobby at the social hub. The Estates, with apartments priced from 3.8 to 36 million dollars, is the equivalent to an urn: Not set to open until 2020, his legacy will live on here.

Lagerfeld, at the helm of Chanel since the 80s and credited with making the careers of many in the fashion world left an indelible mark in many who have come and gone. Gigi Hadid wrote a euology on Instagram, ending it with a full heart emoji and a broken heart emoji. “Rest in Peace, King Karl. I didn’t want this day would come,” she said. Her statement has us questioning as to whether she was alluding to inevitable mortality or if there was an expectation. Back in December, Lagerfeld reportedly was “too tired” to bow out at the culmination of the couture show in January.

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Karl, I will miss your indescribable presence, watching your calm, quiet, genius mind working, your little jokes, amazing stories, and experiencing the clothes, sets, and productions only you could dream up. Thank you for believing in me and for the beautiful, incredible opportunities you brought to my career, but mostly, thank you for giving me the honor of knowing the magic behind the myth. There will never be another Karl Lagerfeld. I am overwhelmed with sadness today, but also with so much love, admiration, and gratitude for you. To all his beloved friends and colleagues, and his favorite girl Choupette????, my heart is with you. ❤️ Rest In Peace King Karl. I didn’t want this day to come. ????

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V Magazine recognizes the lifetime impact that Karl Lagerfeld had made both in the world of fashion and for our own publication. He was a flag bearer for us here at V, solidifying our place in the industry with his contributions at the start. And just like curator Bolton heralded the designer for exemplifying that haute couture is not a dead art, Lagerfeld also proved that print too, is not dead.

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