Biography of Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld is the master of reinvention, having transformed himself as well as his labels. He is the current designer for Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label. He has previously designed for Chloe and created a range for H&M.

Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in 1938. He has one older sister, Martha Christiane, who was born in 1931 and an older half-sister, Thea, from his father’s first marriage.

Lagerfeld was originally born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt, but Karl removed the ‘t’ as he wrote in his book, The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, that it sounded “more commercial”.

Lagerfeld emigrated to Paris at the age of 14.

He has previously designed costumes for La Scala opera.

Karl speaks several languages and owns 7L – a bookshop in Paris. He has also published books of his art photography.

In 1955, at the age of 17, Lagerfeld worked at Pierre Balmain, after winning a competition. He then worked for Jean Patou, Krizia, Charles Jourdan and Valentino.

In 1967, he joined Fendi, then Chloe the following decade.

He joined Chanel in 1983, returning briefly to Chloe in 1993 to replace outgoing designer Martine Sitbon.

In 1984, he launched his own name Karl Lagerfeld label which, he said, would channel “intellectual sexiness”.

By 1997, Vogue crowned Lagerfeld “unparalleled interpreter of the mood of the moment”.

Lagerfeld is famous for having lost a lot of weight and bringing out a diet book, The Karl Lagerfeld Diet. He lost 90lbs on a diet which included eating tuna and blackberry mousse. He said “I think that fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight.” He also revealed that dieting isn’t any fun: “You have to be a real bore like me for it to work.”

In 2005, Lagerfeld sold his own name brands (Lagerfeld Gallery and Lagerfeld), to Tommy Hilfiger, but maintained full design involvement.

In March 2005, Lagerfeld spoke of his mother, thanking her for the fact he had never smoked. He said “‘If you smoke, you hands are always on show, and yours aren’t particularly nice,’ she said. I’ve never had a cigarette. I wanted to please her because she hated anything second-rate.”

Lagerfeld designed two footwear lines for Italian label Hogan in 2010.

It was announced in March 2011 that Lagerfeld would design Lily Allen’s wedding dress, for her marriage to Sam Cooper in June 2011.

Karl said in May 2011 that he wasn’t a big technology man: “I don’t use cell phones. I read, I write, I love faxes, I like to take notes. I hate to be on the phone, I think it’s an intrusion. I’m reading, I’m sketching, I don’t want to be interrupted,” he said.

 

Biography from VogueUK.com

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