Remembering Karl Lagerfeld

The prolific creative director behind Chanel and Fendi

It’s not often someone like Karl Lagerfeld comes around, someone whose conviction in his own success and fame proves true, and tenfold.

As he told The Cut, “I was 6 years old. I was sitting on my mother’s desk in the country estate, in the big house — on her desk, where I was not supposed to sit and sketch — and I said to myself: You will become very famous.” 

A hugely influential designer, his visions spanned several decades across the 20th and 21st centuries, during which he oversaw Fendi, from 1965, and Chanel, from 1983. Chanel was, at the start of his tenure, a house going nowhere in particular—until Lagerfeld stepped in and made something fun and slightly twisted of the house codes of boucle, camellias and pearls. He oversaw both Chanel and Fendi as well as his own eponymous collection until his death on Tuesday in Paris.

His personality was nearly as large as the influence he held over fashion. His personal look, a low white ponytail, fingerless gloves, black suiting and dark sunglasses, is iconic in the true sense of the word. Myth, fun and rumors surrounded the man who once lost 92 pounds, purportedly by drinking Diet Coke, in order to look better in clothes.

Designer Karl Lagerfeld attends the Dior Homme Menswear Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 23, 2016 in Paris, France.

The Karl-isms he spouted were noteworthy, too: Among them were words of warning:

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat,” he said at one point. “You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”

Not long after, Mr, Lagerfeld showed a pair in the Chanel Fall 2014 collection, worn on the runway by none other than supermodel Cara Delevingne, kindly giving us glamorous means in which to lose control.

Though it’s easy to forget, giant force that he was, Lagerfeld was human like the rest of us, mortal and full of hypocrisy. For all his contributions, he was also humble in a sense: he told Vogue’s Suzy Menkes on the subject of death, “I like the attitude of animals in the forest: they disappear. I hate the idea of being heavily remembered.”