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The Karl Lagerfeld Legacy: What Will History Remember?

When an icon passes away there is quite rightly mourning and adulation.

Here we explore what history will remember of Karl Lagerfeld.


The Icon

Karl Lagerfeld passed away aged 85 from rumoured pancreatic cancer on February 19th. He created over a dozen collections per year for three fashion brands, Chanel, Fendi and his own esteemed house. Known for his chic style and eye for exceptional quality he was one of the world’s most well-renowned high fashion designers.

Creative Collaborations

Lagerfeld’s passing will be felt keenly by his creative partners:

  1. Chanel - Chanel CEO Alain Wertheimer, said of his passing: “Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the house of Chanel’s success throughout the world”. Chanel has since appointed Virginie Viard as its new creative director. Viard was the director of the Chanel fashion creation studio and Mr. Lagerfeld’s right-hand woman for more than 30 years.

  2. Fendi - Lagerfeld was creative director at Fendi since 1965. As Silvia Venturini Fendi explained at the recent Karl Lagerfeld show in Milan: “The bond between Karl Lagerfeld and Fendi is fashion’s longest love story, one that will continue to touch our lives for years to come. I am profoundly saddened by his passing and deeply touched by his constant care and perseverance until the very end.” The company have said a successor will be determined at a later date.

  3. Karl Lagerfeld – Launched in 1984 and partly owned by private equity firm Apax Partners, the brand relied heavily on the name and creative talents of its famous designer.

His Legacy

Lagerfeld will be remembered for good but also sometimes for bad.

Spectacular Runways

His catwalk shows became synonymous with entertainment, opening up the fashion world to a whole new audience. Some of our favourite sets include the infamous Chanel country house, beach, waterfall , Brasserie Gabrielle and mechanical flowers.

The Chanel logo

It is not an exaggeration to say Lagerfeld transformed Chanel into the brand it is today. Not only by designing its famous logo, but fundamentally through his eye for an elegant line and obsessive attention to detail, development of the iconic Chanel suit, as well as his unrivalled expertise at elevating fashion to art. He became a bastion for haute couture and helped Chanel go on to secure eye-watering profits.


At Fendi Lagerfeld made real fur desirable again although, following multiple PETA campaigns, this was a position he later reversed.


It would be wrong to claim however that Karl Lagerfeld was universally admired. His ruthlessness, sometimes misogynistic and offensive language, as well as use of fur made him a target of hate from some. So, can we separate the man from the artist? I’m not sure. But what is certain is that his designs did not reflective the abhorrent remarks he sometimes expressed.

Do you think Karl Lagerfeld’s controversial comments will detract from his legacy or do you think only his designs will be recorded in the history books? We’d love to hear from you.

Email us your thoughts.

Photo @Karllagerfeld Instagram account


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