Karl Lagerfeld was undoubtedly one of the most gargantuan figures in fashion. With lauded designs for Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous label – he recreated, redefined and restructured everything fashionable. Be it his ‘pictures’, books or his gallery, the artistic brilliance of this creative visionary explored many fields. He was one of the few artists who seamlessly achieved perfection and over time revolutionized modern fashion with his understanding of couture, relevance, sophistication and creativity.
A maestro of cut, Karl Lagerfeld also reinvented the tweed suit and explained it as catering to, ‘a modern ease, not at all bourgeois.’ Prolific to the point and a master of his artistry, Karl Lagerfeld (who can also be found in the French dictionary) gave us a glimpse into his life, work, art and play.
We revisit an old conversation with the icon, in tribute.
What is a day in the life of Karl Lagerfeld like?
Daily routine would be the beginning of the end. Everyday is different from the other. It depends on the collections, on my artwork and on so many other things.
“I have no regrets. We know fashion today, but after tomorrow, we don’t. Also, one of my secrets is that I always think that everything I’ve done can be improved on. I’m never pleased with what I do. I do what I can do, but I never consider it complete.”
What is the one thing that you haven’t yet done that you would like to do?
I have no regrets. We know fashion today, but after tomorrow, we don’t. Also, one of my secrets is that I always think that everything I’ve done can be improved on. I’m never pleased with what I do. I do what I can do, but I never consider it complete. So, I still have things to achieve! It is really the way I work, the way I feel and the way I think it should be.
You were born in Germany and spent your formative years there with no exposure to fashion so when did the romance with fashion begin?
I have always been curious and wanted to learn. At five, I knew how to read, at six, I could already speak French and English. I only followed one idea: to grow up. But I always loved drawing and sketching.
“I like to go on, I like things to change. I am not attached to anything from the past; in fact, I hate the past...because it’s over.”
You have earlier been quoted as saying, ‘I never fall in love. I am just in love with my job.’ In context to that what is it you love about your job?
I love everything about my job! For me it is not even a job, I don’t like ‘job’ as a word. A job is what you have to do for a living, for me doing what I do is pleasure. I come to work but I don’t ever feel like I‘m working. Creating fashion, for me, is as natural as breathing.
You have been a part of the fashion world since five decades – which phase of fashion according to you has been the most innovative and why?
I don’t like the word decade. I must admit that I think it’s strange but I never made a special effort to be trendy. You know, to survive you need to be your own trend. I think life is interesting. I like to go on, I like things to change. I am not attached to anything from the past; in fact, I hate the past...because it’s over.
“The future, you know...Tomorrow May Never Happen, as it’s said in an English song from few years ago. This is the only way I can keep up a non-stop dialogue with reality. Ongoing activities are healthy and stimulating. For me the future is three months, three months, three months.”
You have designed many collections simultaneously for various design houses including your own label. How do you switch off from one collection and switch on to the other all at the same time?
When I work for Chanel, it is Chanel, when I work for Fendi, it is my Italian vision, when I work for Lagerfeld, it is my personal test, more limited. Let’s say, that I have a secret that I cannot analyze. If I could, it would be the end of my creativity.
Designer, photographer, author, publisher, bookshop owner, what do we expect from Karl Lagerfeld in the future?
The future, you know...Tomorrow May Never Happen, as it’s said in an English song from few years ago. This is the only way I can keep up a non-stop dialogue with reality. Ongoing activities are healthy and stimulating. For me the future is three months, three months, three months. Anyway, they all inspire me. Architecture stimulates fashion; there is a symbiosis between fashion and photography. There is a real overlap between all my activities, and I have the good fortune of being able to work in fashion, photography, architecture, art. All these areas are so different that you can’t compare them, but you need them all._