Yesterday, German designer Karl Lagerfeld turned Seventy-eight and has no hopes of retiring anytime soon. While contemporaries like Hubert de Givenchy and Valentino Garavani sold off their labels, Karl continues to design under his own label as well as for Chanel and Fendi.
Born in Hamburg on 10th September 1933, Karl began is career twenty years later by being a freelance draftsman for fashion houses in Paris. In 1955, he joined the house of Pierre Balmain after winning a contest for designing a coat by the International Wool Secretariat. Ironically, the other Grand Master, Yves Saint Laurent, stood second to Karl. More ironical is the fact that Karl never liked designing coats. He preferred designing LBD’s.
Three years later in 1958, Karl joined the House of Jean Patou where he designed two collections a year. But none of this is as interesting as the very controversial collection he did for Chanel in 1994. According to Wikipedia, “There was much controversy from Lagerfeld’s use of a verse from the Qur’an in his spring 1994 couture collection for Chanel, despite apologies from the designer and the fashion house. The controversy erupted after the 1994 couture show in Paris, when the Indonesian Muslim Scholars Council in Jakarta called for a boycott of Chanel and threatened to file formal protests with the government of Mr. Lagerfeld’s homeland, Germany. The designer apologized, explaining that he had taken the design from a book about the Taj Mahal, thinking the words came from a love poem.” What happened to those clothes costing millions? They were unceremoniously burned in an incinerator.
Since then, Karl Lagerfeld has designed less controversial things like the Diet Coke bottle, a coffee-table book called Visionnaire 23: The Emperor’s New Clothes and even a teddy-bear in his likeness (it wears dark-glasses). In fact, Karl is rarely seen without his dark-glasses, black gloves on his hands (at times finger-less) and a lace fan in his hand. And if you must know, he ONLY travels in the Chanel jet-plane – it was a clause in his contract when he signed up for the job decades ago.
Now 78 years old with no signs of letting up, Karl Lagerfeld is still on the top of the couture list. Here are few of his more infamous and eccentric quotes (courtesy The Observer Magazine) to keep you giggling all day:
* “I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long”
* “When I was four I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday”
* “The iPod is genius. I have 300”
* “I don’t know Heidi Klum. She was never known in France. Claudia Schiffer also doesn’t know who she is.”
* “They’re my burka…” (On his sunglasses)
* “I had an interview once with some German journalist – some horrible, ugly woman. It was in the early days after the communists – maybe a week after – and she wore a yellow sweater that was kind of see-through. She had huge tits and a huge black bra, and she said to me, ‘It’s impolite; remove your glasses.’ I said, ‘Do I ask you to remove your bra’?”
* “When I was a child I asked my mother what homosexuality was about and she said – and this was 100 years ago in Germany and she was very open-minded – ‘It’s like hair colour. It’s nothing. Some people are blonde and some people have dark hair. It’s not a subject.’ This was a very healthy attitude.”
* “Frustration is the mother of crime, and so there would be much more crime without prostitutes and without porn movies.”