Karl Lagerfeld, a brand
Best known as Chanel's creative director, Karl Lagerfeld became a brand in his own right thanks to his cat Choupette, often tactless remarks and that unmistakable look.
Sunglasses and a ponytail
Karl Lagerfeld's ponytail and sunglasses made up his signature look. A shirt with a high collar, coat and tie, leather gloves and up to 30 rings on his fingers were just as indispensable. His unmistakable silhouette adorns the logo of his eponymous fashion label.
"Everything I've worn since 2002 is by Dior and Hedi Slimane," Lagerfeld said. That's when he lost 40 kilograms (88 pounds) so he could fit into the slim-cut Slimane suits — and wrote a book entitled The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, which is based on eating mainly protein foods. The fashion czar swore by Coca-Cola Light and had even designed a bottle for the product.
Karl and his books
"I just can't stop buying books," Lagerfeld once said. They were all over his home. His bed was surrounded by towers of book and shelves line the walls, leaving little room for pictures. Lagerfeld's collection included about 300,000 books, mainly illustrated books on fashion and art, history and philosophy as well as essays and poems. The latter were his favorite.
Fashion, books — and then there was his third great passion: his cat, Choupette. The famous "cat who refuses to eat from the floor" has her own staff, Facebook and Twitter accounts and inspired two Chanel collections. "There is something unforgettable about her," Lagerfeld said. "She is an inspiration for elegance, for posture."
Karl and his muses
Choupette was by no means Lagerfeld's only muse. Beginning in 1990, he boosted the international top model career of Claudia Schiffer (photo). Baptiste Giabiconi was another source of inspiration. Lagerfeld photographed the young French model himself, and presented the results in illustrated books and exhibitions.
In 1987, Lagerfeld took over some of the camerawork for his agency because the advertising campaigns for Chanel didn't always meet his high aesthetic standards. He shot numerous Chanel campaigns, photographed stars including Nicole Kidman, did fashion portraits for Vogue and made short films for Fendi and other fashion houses. In the above photo, Choupette stars in a campaign for Opel.
Sweatpants are a sign of defeat, Lagerfeld famously claimed. People lose control of their lives and "go out on the street in sweatpants," he added. That was probably not true for the Chanel variety he designed in 2014 as part of a campaign targeting "leisure activities with a professional background," which was, in fact, how Lagerfeld described his job. "Standing on an assembly line, that's work."
Soul of Chanel
Lagerfeld's looks, his quick tongue, his muses and the cult surrounding his Burmese cat were enough to make him a brand in his own right. But first and foremost, he was the soul of the house of Chanel. He had been creating haute couture and pret-a-porter collections up throughout his life. He died on February 19, at the age of 85.