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The death of Karl Lagerfeld.

Life as a catwalk.

The childhood defined? That was "the biggest waste of my life," Karl Lagerfeld once said, he just wanted to grow up quickly.

In 1933 he was born as the second child of a canned milk manufacturer and his wife Elisabeth in Hamburg-Blankenese, at that time he was still called Lagerfeldt with "dt", the "t" he will later delete, for aesthetic reasons.

Most of his first years are spent on Gut Bissenmoor near Bad Bramstedt, where the Lagerfeldts are waiting for the end of the Second World War. Instead of playing with peers, the boy crawls into the attic, as he will tell later, when he is already famous. There he rummaged in old editions of the satirical magazine "Simplicissimus". Especially the drawings of Olaf Gulbransson and Thomas Theodor Heines fascinate him. He is a loner, he wants to be a cartoonist or do other work.

Karl Lagerfeld working
karl lagerfeld creative

Maybe he finds on the paper a lightness that distracts him from the strict family home. The father? "A dear man", but mainly busy with his "lucky clover" milk GmbH. The mother? Even 42, when she finally brings the desired heir to the world. The relationship remains distanced throughout life. "She did not feel like kidding, you had to say something adult," the son will remember later, as he always wears his parents' wedding rings on a necklace.

"Germany, let's forget, you have to get out of here."

The little Karl follows the guidelines, develops a taste for tailor-made, tie and monocle. He also wears a braid, which does not go down well with one of his teachers. When, in a chance encounter, he takes the mother into account for the haircut, she flings the man's necktie in the face and counters, "Why are you still a Nazi?"

At the age of 18, his mother takes him to Paris for the first time. Then it is clear to him: Here he wants to live. Back home he breaks school but studies French fluently. In 1953 he moved to the Seine with his mother, his father stays with the company in Germany. Karl tries to catch up with the Abitur at a private school. It does not work. But he can draw, finds work as a fashion illustrator. Money is not a problem, it comes from Germany.

The rise to become one of the most famous fashion designers in the world begins with the design of a black camel hair coat, with which the 21-year-old Lagerfeld won a prize in 1954 from the International Wool Secretariat. Another youngster wins in the category "evening dress": Yves Saint-Laurent, then 18. The two will remain rivals for a lifetime.

Lagerfeld gets from the mother a cream-colored Mercedes Benz Cabriolet 190 SL, with which he drives almost to death, which is why he can later only chauffeured: Rolls Royce in the country, Bentley in the city.

The coat and the tailor Lagerfeld are made by Pierre Balmain. Even the more fashionable Cristobal Balenciaga wants to win the young talent for his studio, but Karl is "not so impressed by him". The training leads him to haute couture, hand-crafted custom clothing for the jet set. Soon, however, the young designer has "fed up with being an assistant". He does not feel born for that.

At 25 he becomes Artistic Director with Jean Patou. This is followed by stops at Mario Valentino and Krizia - less haute couture, more ready-to-wear fashion designer.. Then he changes to Chloé as Artistic Director.

After initial criticism, the press soon celebrates him as the "Century Herald Tribune". Overall, he works 34 years for the label. Incidentally, he creates his first perfume and the fur collections for Fendi, founds his first own company and works freely for various fashion houses.

In Paris Lagerfeld also finds the love of his life: Jaques de Bascher, a great seducer and manipulator who is at least equal in vanity and dandyism: "He was the most elegant Frenchman I have ever known."

18 years they are a couple, allegedly without sex. De Bascher is well-known for his promiscuity, and Lagerfeld-financed "Moratoire Noire" are considered SM soirees with up to 1500 guests. An affair of Bascher with Yves Saint Laurent, whom he once locked in a closet, leads to lifelong enmity between the two fashion creator.
In 1954 Lagerfeld was not much more than a young Parisian fashion talent. Even then, he talked faster than others could think, in vain he tried to mitigate his German accent by excessive admissions. In the course of his career one will often make fun of it. Lagerfeld, together with a large number of other budding designers, had submitted a design to the prestigious International Wool Secretariat competition - and promptly won first prize in the mantle category. The one for the best evening dress went to Yves Saint Laurent, then a pale 18-year-old from Oran in Algeria.

The Great Karl Like no one else, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld were to dominate Parisian fashion in the second half of the 20th century, the French god of design, whose customers lay at their feet, and the German Sun King, who was already pop, before this Word ever existed. "Le grand Karl" is called Lagerfeld awesome by the French, but before he could become this, he first had to step out of the shadow of his big competitor Saint Laurent. Lagerfeld's real ascent began.

in 1983, when he took over the creative direction of Chanel. "Things are not going well," Chanel owner Alain Wertheimer had told him at the time, "do what you want, and if it does not work, I'll sell it"

karl lagerfeld self portrait
karl lagerfeld at school
the house karl lagerfeld lived in during WW2
Karl Lagerfeld in Monaco 2018
karl lagerfeld fashion designer

The succession of Karl Lagerfeld.

The succession of Karl Lagerfeld has been speculated just as fiercely as the state of health of the fashion designer. Now it is clear that his long-term employee Virginie Viard will design the collections of the French fashion house.

Chanel co-owner Alain Wertheimer had entrusted "the closest coworker of Karl Lagerfeld for 30 years" with the draft of the future Chanel mode, communicated the enterprise on Tuesday in Paris. This should keep the "heritage" of Coco Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld alive.

In January, Virginie Viard had received the final applause at the Chanel presentation on behalf of the fashion designer. The Frenchwoman has been working for Chanel since 1987. Most recently, she was responsible for all creative departments at the company.

"We grew up together"

"When I first met her 30 years ago, I never thought that one day she would run all the creative departments of Chanel, so we grew up together," Lagerfeld said in a recent interview about working with Viard.

One of the tasks of the studio boss was to create sketches using Lagefeld's sketches. She also oversees the legendary "Petites Mains" in the studio, the "little hands" who implement the designs.

After training at the Fashion School in Lyon, Viard had initially worked as a costume designer before joining Chanel in 1987, four years after Karl Lagerfeld. She followed the designer when he joined Chloé in 1992 and returned to Chanel five years later at his side.

Karl Lagerfeld died in Paris, Chanel said on Tuesday. At first nothing was known about the cause of death or the exact time.