Synonymous with Chanel and just as much of an icon as founder Gabrielle Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld has turned the name into the mega-brand that it is today. The modernisation of a bourgeoisie legacy brand, Karl’s achievement is etched the memory of anyone who’s ever encountered a signature Chanel piece. Read on to see what Lagerfeld had achieved for the brand as one of the most well known and decorated creative directors of our time.
The Karl Lagerfeld Revival of Chanel
Karl Lagerfeld’s initiation into the fashion industry stemmed from winning a competition sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat. Famous for his creative orchestration behind multiple fashion brands, he began his journey in the fashion industry working for Pierre Balmain. Later he worked amidst more fashion icons like Jean Patou and Valentino, then moving to become the creative director at Chloe and Fendi. Eventually, signing onto Chanel as their new couturier where he potentially saved them from extinction; He created Chanel’s iconic double ‘C’ interlocking logo. He briefly founded his own company ‘Karl Lagerfeld’ after taking charge at Chanel. Born in Hamburg, Germany, and later moving to Paris, he learned how to speak German, French, English and Italian: the languages of main fashion capitals. Lagerfeld took interest in photography, reading, architecture and design; as a result, he opened a bookstore in Paris on Rue de Lille, he was also the photographer behind many Chanel campaigns.
Karl’s First Chanel RTW Collection in 1983
Stepping under new management at Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld found restructuring the House’s distinct codes and replacing former classic styles with a modern twist important. Lagerfeld substituted their conservative shapes with sets to bulky fabrics and daring silhouettes as an attempt to modernise Chanel’s classic figure. During the creative process, he took inspiration from the different decades of Chanel, for example, the idea of matching sets from the eighties and the gold detailing stemming from the thirties all reflected in one piece. Lagerfeld’s talent in design allowed him to create pieces that were timeless and could be retailed as a ‘great investment’.
Chanel remained using their classic distinct codes: Tweed, black, gold, pink and beige. Lagerfeld also started using colours like red and navy in abundance alongside the classic colours, he would often mix match fabrics. Iconic pieces within the fashion house were also reproduced more often; for example, tweed jackets, large pearls, Chanel 2.55 bag, and ballerina shoes. Lagerfeld began placing the iconic Chanel logo on items that did not fall under luxury and couture, such as surfboards and skis, this technique showed everyone Chanel was able to adapt to the newest trends to maintain relevance.
Iconic Chanel Designs by Karl Lagerfeld
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Chanel Little Black Jacket
Lagerfeld designed this jacket with the intention of adding a modern twist to the original Chanel black tweed jacket designed by Coco Chanel. This jacket is famous for fitting to the shape of the wearer’s body perfectly, thanks to its stitching and quality of fabric. Karl Lagerfeld orchestrated a photoshoot photographing over 100 celebrities wearing the jacket. Models include figures such as Kanye West to Sara Jessica Parker.
See how an average Chanel jacket is constructed here.
Chanel Deauville Tote
The Chanel Deauville tote was first introduced on the runway during Chanel’s SS 2012 collection. Originally named after a seaside resort by Normandy, the tote is perfect for the summer and can hold larger items. It also comes in multiple colours and fabrics: denim, ecru, black, red etc.
Chanel Dad Sandals
The Chanel ‘Dad’ sandals began trending early spring 2021. The leather shoes take the shape of modernised sandals with gold detailing and identifiable Chanel stitching and have velcro straps as well as the Chanel logo on each shoe.
|Chanel Python WOC||Chanel Lambskin WOC||Chanel Crackled Patent WOC|
Chanel Wallet On Chain (WOC)
Chanel’s Wallet-On-Chain bag is used only when necessities need to be carried, as they are not as big as the other Chanel bags. The WOC comes in a variety of colours.
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Chanel Classic Flap Bag
Although the Chanel Classic Handbag was originally designed by Coco Chanel, Lagerfeld had further modified it in the 80s. The name originates from when the bag was made, February 1955. It comes in a variety of different colours and materials: from tweed to leather and black to silver.
Chanel Boy Bag
The Chanel Boy Bag was introduced in Chanel’s FW 2011 show. The bag was a tribute to Coco (also known as Gabrielle) Chanel’s first love Arthur ‘Boy’ Capel. The Bag also has distinctive quilting in the middle and intricate detail in metal clasps. The Chanel Boy bag has been made with a various number of materials due to its popularity and versatility, for example, calfskin and goatskin.
Chanel Layering Pearls
Pearls have been a household staple within the fashion house Chanel. Coco Chanel once said “A woman needs ropes and ropes of pearls.” During Lagerfeld’s takeover, he modernised the chains of pearls with charms. In the movie, ‘Devil Wears Prada’, Andrea Sachs played by Anne Hathaway is spotted wearing pearl Chanel necklaces layered together.
The Chanel Hula Hoop Bag
Lagerfeld created a big bag essentially made of two hula hoops, it’s large enough to fit beach essentials like towels, a change of clothes, a pair of sandals and sunscreen. However, it was only displayed on the runway, and was never set for production.