Is Karl Lagerfeld a Sellout?

Posted by Zina Tasreen
April 9, 2012

Karl Lagerfeld with his muse Baptiste Giabiconi (happens to be Katy Perry’s new squeeze!)

Karl Lagerfeld is a complete hack, and a sellout. There. I said it. It’s going to ring like a sacrilege to most, but at least I’ve weighty people like Robin Givhan and Azzedine Alaïa agreeing with me :-D

The hardest working man in fashion or just a hack?

Neither did he give any of the three houses he fronted any new direction, nor does he have a signature silhouette, aesthetic or sensibility that all great designers have, and for which they’ll forever be known. Christian Dior has his “New Look” silhouetteYves Saint Laurent has his Le Smoking JacketValentino has that tiered ruffle dress and his particular shade of red, Diane von Fürstenberg and her wrap dress, Jean Paul Gaultier and his conical busts and corsetry, Azzedine Alaïa has his clingy dresses, heck, even Roland Mouret has his Galaxy dress and so on, but Karl, what new stuff has he come up with? Tom Ford has revolutionised GucciChristopher Bailey has done the same with BurberryAlber Elbaz with LanvinJohn Galliano’s given Dior his own stamp, Raf Simons with Jil Sander, same with Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton… I could think of so many names. All Lagerfeld has done at Chanel, since 1983, is riff through Mademoiseille’s archives and tweak things here-and-there. It’s the same story at Chloé and Fendi. When left to his own devices for his eponymous collections, he has flattered to deceive.

Designed Diet Coca-Cola bottles…

Designed ‘The Magnum Chocolate Suite’ in Paris, a life-size hotel suite room made out of 10.5 tons of chocolate in collaboration with Magnum ice cream. The bed, the rug, the lamp, absolutely everything has been made out of chocolates sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ farms in Ghana and Equador. If you found Baptiste yummy, there’s an edible life-size Baptiste for you, holding a Magnum ice cream bar!

Collaborated with Sephora for a limited edition make-up range. Yep, that collection also had a Karl snow globe and Karl blow-up doll!

Left: A glassware line designed by Karl for the traditional Swedish glassmaker Orrefors Right: Designed label for the 2009 vintage Château Rauzan-Ségla bottle

Designed a teddy bear in his likeness for Steiff, the high-end German toy company

Designed a helmet for Les Ateliers Ruby, the luxury mobility accessories brand

Then there are his pointless and bizarre side projects. I’ve lost count of them. Just when I thought it wasn’t possible to spread himself any thinner, along came news of this collab…

AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter (Photo courtesy| Mike de Bruijn)

…with AgustaWestland, an Anglo-Italian helicopter manufacturer, to design both the interiors and exteriors of their VIP choppers. Yep, you read it right. Those small-ish wing-less flying vessels. To think collabs couldn’t get any stranger than Jean Paul Gaultier’s with Dillon Gage. Karl’s “creativity and sophisticated style” would allow the Finmeccanica-owned company to “introduce a new, limited edition, customized solution” for its growing customer base. For now he’ll revamp the AW139 model, twin-turbine helicopters that can transport up to 15 people and plenty of luggage at “very high speed”. If the venture turns out to be beneficial for AgustaWestland, the partnership would be extended to other commercial models as well.

Which one, which one, you reckon?

Could it be…? (Photo courtesy|

What do you think will be splattered across the choppers: the ‘K’ logo of his eponymous line or his own patented silhouette?

Leave A Comment
  • Rohit

    no way is he a hack! easily one of the most innovative and boundary pushing man in the fashion industry. if at all a hack then it has to be Andre Leon Tally. i just don’t understand his role in vogue or have witnessed anything that he’s done to change the face of fashion.

    • Zina Tasreen

      I totally agree with you re: ALT. All he does is swan around from one event to another, and if he could be arsed, does some sub-par pieces. I suppose Vogue gets more bang for buck out of Hamish Bowles.

  • Rita

    Sweetheart, learn a bit more about fashion before getting on your high horse and dissing people. Lagerfeld’s job was not to reinvent the wheel for those fashion houses, but to carry forward their legacy, which he has done well, while still infusing it with his style. His eponymous line is where his own style comes to the forefront. Understand? And since he has such a vision, he is paid exceedingly well to put his stamp on things. Understand? That’s the way the fashion cookie crumbles.

  • NotMissMalini

    SO….Much….SMUG. Must…..hold…**cough cough**….breaathhh!

    • Zina Tasreen

      Hahaha. Me or Karl?

  • NotMissMalini

    My fashion choices are based on which of my clothes are actually clean. Correction: Cleaner than the rest.

    • Zina Tasreen

      Hahaha… You’re funny, NotMissMalini!

  • Ramp Watcher

    I agree with Rohit abt Andre Leon Talley! as for Karl Lagerfeld, I seem to agree with Sue (partly), coz, as she rightly says, he’s never created a signature look from scratch! I mean, how do U identify a Karl Lagerfeld design???? Even tarun tahiliani (drape), Rohit Bal (voluminous emroidered kurtas kurtas, Arjun Khanna (Kashmiri-style embroidery) and JJ Valaya (belted sarees) have signature styles!

    I’m with Sue on this one!

    and Rita, could U please elaborate – “His eponymous line is where his own style comes to the forefront”.

    What is his “own style”???? – The point of sue’s article in the 1st place!

  • Ramp Watcher

    Ooops! Sorry! Was reading it on my fone! So skipped the by-line and jst thought it was Sue. Hahahaha! Silly me! Love it anyway! ;p

  • Cezca Chanelle

    Excuse me???? And you got paid to write this?? Do you have any fashion knowledge whatsoever? Do you know why Chanel is still a success after all these years and is right up there with the fashion houses of the world? Why do you think Lagerfeld is the creative director of Chanel? Please do your research before attempting to give your baseless opinions! Lagerfeld’s job for Chanel is not to create his own extremely distinctive looks! It’s to carry on Coco Gabrielle’s legacy especially in design! His job is to create modern lines and cuts to the pieces as fashion evolves not to create a whole new look for Chanel. There are Chanel loyalists for a reason and Chanel’s line is classy and elegant. It is timeless! Take for example the classic Chanel suits, Lagerfeld’s job is not to create a whole different type of suit, it’s to tweak it as trends and times change but still keeping it in line with what the brand represents. You must have a look at the Chanel runway shows to get an idea of what i’m talking about because you seem very ignorant. As for pointless and bizarre projects my dear, do you know anything about the luxury sector???? Do you have any idea about designer collaborations and how designers are expanding from just designing clothes! Do you know what a huge market there is for these products you refer to as ‘pointless??’

    And i also hope you know what Lagerfeld has his own line as well! I think the only sell out here is you trying to pass of as a fashion writer!

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