Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in September 1938. A cosmopolitan education and knowledge of language enabled him to finish his studies in Paris.
In 1955, he won first prize in the contest organisation by the International Wool Association. The coat he designed was produced by Pierre Balmain, and, at 17, Lagerfeld become the designer’s assistant. He stayed with him for three years before becoming Art Director for Jean Patou, where he remained for five years. It was during this time that he deepened his knowledge in history, architecture, music and 18th Century French.
When ready-to-wear came into its own in the 1960s, he plunged into a career as as an independent stylist. The concept of fur needed modernization to become a viable element of fashion, so Fendi called on Lagerfeld – a collaboration that continues to this day.
Perfume is as important as fashion for Lagerfeld, so, in 1975 he launched Chloe. Then followed Lagerfeld for Men in 1978, Photo in 1991, Jako in 1998 and Kapsule in 2008.
In 1984, he created his own line, Karl Lagerfeld, while continuing both his collaboration with Chanel, where he was named Art Director in 1983, and his longstanding collaboration with Fendi. He also signed the new collections for Chloe from 1992 to 1997.
He decided to move behind the lens in 1987, with his first press kits, and from this time on Lagerfeld created his own ad campaigns. His passion for photography and for books transformed his campaigns into veritable art books, while continuing photo shoots for prestigious fashion magazines.
In 1998, he launched his own label, Lagerfeld Gallery. November 1999 saw the opening of the bookshop, 7L, followed by the publishing company.
In 2000, Lagerfeld changed his look, redefining his image. Will-power and a drastic self-imposed diet helped him lose 42 kilos [93lbs] giving up a style that no longer fitted his personality. He wrote a book ‘The 3 D diet’ [Designer, Doctor, Diet] and it has sold in its thousands. In 2004, Lagerfeld designed a collection for H&M and in 2005, sold his mark and its activities to Tommy Hilfiger. In 2010 he received the Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.