The Past and the Present
Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld was born in 1938 in Hamburg, Germany, to a wealthy family. He went to Paris in 1952, where he studied informally, with the ambition to be fashion designer, until he won a prize for a wool coat from the Wool Secretariat in 1954 (the same contest in which Yves Saint Laurent won an award for a dress).
Lagerfeld first worked for Pierre Balmain (1954-57), then in 1958 he moved to House of Patou. For a while, he freelanced at Krizia. He worked for Chloe in 1959-78, during which time he began designing furs for Fendi (in 1965) and also launched his company, Parfums Lagerfeld (in 1975). Lagerfeld designed independently from 1978 to 1982, when he began designing haute couture at the House of Chanel. In 1983, with the help of Gilles du Four, he added Chanel ready-to-wear garments to his list of responsibilities.
Although he continued to design for Chanel, Lagerfeld established his own design business in 1984 and resumed designing for Chloe in 1992. The engagement with Chloe ended in 1997, when design at Chloe was took over by ex-Beatle Paul's daugther Stella McCartney. Lagerfeld currently designs for three companies: his own label, Chanel, and furs for Fendi of Italy.
His signature line, which is developed from sketches, features very structural and dramatic women's wear, mostly in black and white. He featured the "Wunderbra" and the "Wundercorset" in 1994.
As an avid photographer, Lagerfeld often shoots his own press photos, and is sometimes called "Kaiser Karl" by the press. His personal trademarks include a fan, a long ponytail for his powdered-white hair, and sunglasses. He is a uniquely confident man and speaks German, French, English, and Italian.