THE REAL KARL
Behind the dark sunglasses, polished suit and flawless hair — behind the international fashion icon — Karl Lagerfeld was an incredible human. Extraordinarily perceptive. Brilliantly well-read. A dazzling storyteller. His friends knew him as genuine, generous and kind. And as a surprise to many, he had a biting sense of humor. Karl’s sharp tongue could deliver a wisecrack with perfect timing; he always promised to be an entertaining conversationalist. While the public perception of him was a carefully curated image, there was much more to Karl than what meets the eye…
KARL THE DESIGNER
Design was the foundation of Karl’s life; for him, expressing his inexhaustible creativity was an intrinsic need. However, his career in fashion happened somewhat accidentally, as he originally planned to become an illustrator. By chance, he entered the 1954 International Woolmark Prize — at just 21 years old — and won first place for his sketch of a coat, which instantly launched his career. In the 65 years that followed, fashion remained the core of his work, though he continually explored various realms of design. This was fueled by an unrelenting mind and boundless sources of inspiration, from people and places to art and pop culture.
KARL THE COLLABORATOR
Collaboration was one of Karl’s greatest passions. He loved to work with — and be inspired by — creative talents including artists, designers, celebrities, musicians and iconic brands like Coca-Cola, Barbie, Steiff, Faber Castell, tokidoki and more. In 2004, Karl was asked by H&M to collaborate on a capsule collection; this was the first time ever that the fast fashion giant partnered with a high fashion and runway designer. The acclaimed project had resounding effects on the fashion industry, which have lasted to this day.
KARL THE PHOTOGRAPHER
When Karl shot his first campaign in 1987, he became immediately enthralled by photography; moving behind the lens was yet another form of creative expression. His technical photographic vocabulary included screen prints, Polaroid transfers, resinotypes, daguerreotypes, digital prints, platinotypes and Fresson prints. In 1999, he opened his own photo studio in Paris, where he captured countless images with some of the world’s greatest icons from creative industries and beyond. Many of Karl’s photos were also transformed into art books, largely published by Steidl.
KARL THE BOOK LOVER
With over 300,000 books in his private collection, Karl had an insatiable appetite for the written word. His home, studio and offices all brimmed with towering stacks of books, on topics ranging from history to art, music, geography, architecture and more. When he opened his photo studio in 1999, he conjoined it to a bookshop called 7L. A year later, he also became a publisher with the launch of the EDITIONS 7L publishing house, which specializes in books about visual knowledge and photography. Ultimately, Karl’s passion for literature reflects his unparalleled thirst for learning, knowledge and cultural awareness.
While Karl excelled at capturing others, he was also a master of self-portraits. Throughout his lifetime, he photographed, painted and drew countless portraits of his own iconic look.
KARL THE ARCHITECTURE LOVER
As Karl’s career became increasingly multidisciplinary, he found himself involved in various projects for interior design and architecture — both subjects that deeply fascinated him. His resulting work can be found in places like Paris, Macau, Miami, Berlin, Taiwan, Monte-Carlo, Singapore and Toronto, and more. Most recently, his projects included a lavish four-year renovation of the Hôtel de Crillon in Paris, and The KARL LAGERFELD Hotel in Macau (set to open in late 2020).
KARL & CHOUPETTE
It’s hard to believe that Karl’s love for cats didn’t come until later in his life — and in fact, it was just one feline who won his heart. Karl was originally asked to take care of Choupette for a week, but come Monday he insisted she never leave. “It was love at first sight,” Karl recalled. “She is peaceful, funny, fun and gracious; she’s pretty to look at and has good poise.”