Karl Lagerfeld is one of the most famous fashion designers in the world. In addition to his own namesake label, Lagerfeld has been a major creative force behind well-known houses like Chanel, Chloé and Fendi.
Lagerfeld was born in Germany as the son of a wealthy Hamburg businessman. The designer claims that no one knows his true birth date as he has never revealed the exact month and year. It's believed he was born on September 10, 1933, which makes him 82! When he was 14 years old Lagerfeld moved to Paris, where he studied drawing and history at Lycée Montaigne. After he had been in Paris for two years he submitted a series of sketches and fabric samples to a design competition. He ended up taking first place in the coat category and his design was chosen out of 200.000 entries.
The beginning of his career
After he won the competition Lagerfeld was hired as Pierre Balmain's assistant and later as an apprentice. Lagerfeld worked for Balmain for three and a half years and was then asked to become the art director at Jean Patou, where he remained for five years. He designed two collections a year. But he grew bored and needed a bigger challenge in his life.
Fendi & Chloé
The idea of working for several houses appealed to Lagerfeld as he was easily bored. So in 1963, he began to work as a freelancer for French and Italian design houses. He started to design fur pieces and ready-to-wear collections for Fendi and in 1964 Lagerfeld began to freelance for the French fashion house Chloé. He started with designing a few pieces every season, but soon he was envisioning the whole collection. He stayed at Chloé on-and-off for 20 years.
In 1983, Lagerfelds reputation was firmly established and he was seen as a great fashion force. When he joined Chanel in 1983, he was advised to think again about the move as the now iconic fashion house was considered dead. Lagerfeld explained: "When someone says don't do it, it's hopeless, then I think it's interesting." He did what few thought was possible. He made Chanel into one of the strongest fashion houses in the business. He is especially credited with his endless creativity and with his ability to reinterpret the iconography and history of Chanel.