Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Inspirational People: Karl Lagerfeld

Known internationally for his serious expression, white-grey ponytail, dark suits and sunglasses. Karl Lagerfeld, creative director for Chanel is loved in the fasion industry for his work on the Chanel label since a short while after the sad death of the brand's founder Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel in 1971. He is the man that makes this my favourite high fashion label. And yes, he is almost (almost) as inspirational as Chanel herself. But, who is the man behind the dark glasses?
Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in 1933 (when Coco Chanel was forty) although he has claimed to be born in 1938. When he was fourteen years old he emigrated from Germany to France and completed his studies there. He could already speak German, he learnt to speak French and can now speak several other languages also. 
At 17 he entered a contest to design a coat. This coat went on to be produced by top designer Pierre Balmain. He became the designer's assistant and stayed with him for three years. Remember when he first started he was only 17. You really can start achieving your dreams from a young age. This might have been fifty years ago but when people stereotype youths this goes to show that people do fight against that stereotype. See here for other examples.
At the still young age of twenty when most people are still completing their studies and other aspiring designers still at an art college of some sort, Lagerfeld started working as art director for Jean Patou. He was comfortable with this job but did not find it challenging enough so, five years later, he left. Later on however, he did say that it was interesting and made him more knowledgable about some of his passions: history, architecture, music and eighteenth century French. Read about how French fashion has evolved, starting with the 18th century here. After working for Patou he went on to work for many more labels; Krizia, Charles Jourdan and Valentino. In 1967 he started work at Fendi which he is still working for now, as creative director. He started work at Chloe in the '70s. It was not until 1983 (twelve years after Mademoiselle Chanel's death) that he started to work at Chanel. By the time 1985 (at the age of fifty three) rolled round the corner Lagerfeld was a budding entrepreneur who had not only worked for a number of large fashion houses but also had his very own label Karl Lagerfeld under his belt. 

Karl is also known for losing a lot of weight (in a good way.) He used to be rather large but he says that fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight. I am not sure if it is the healthiest but I am sure it is effective. 

Whether you want to be inspired to go all out to achieve your dreams (whether they exist within the fashion industry or not), start fashion design, lose weight or learn languages; Lagerfeld has it all. 

This picture above makes me smile every time I see it so I hope it will do the same to you. To sum it all up this Karl Lagerfeld guy is a pretty inspirational fella (haha, I never use that word I just thought it sounded fitting right there!) As soon as I started reading the Coco Chanel the Legend and the Life biography by Justine Picardie I knew that I just had to find out more about Lagerfeld because so many of his illustrations were featured in there. Now, finally, eight months later I have put my research into a worthwhile blog post. I hope you like it. 

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