Yesterday, 19 February 2019, a legend of contemporary design, Karl Lagerfeld, left us. Born in 1933, he was a German creative director, fashion designer, artist, photographer and caricaturist based in Paris. Renowned as the creative director of the French fashion brand Chanel since 1983, he brought Métiers d’Art to the spotlight.
Lagerfeld was a mesmerizing individual with an endless imagination, capable of reinventing the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the CHANEL jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry. Talking about Gabrielle Chanel, he said, “My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done. The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.”
Alain Wertheimer, CEO of CHANEL, confessed: “Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the House of CHANEL’s success throughout the world. Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand.”
Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion at CHANEL, said: “Fashion show after fashion show, collection after collection, Karl Lagerfeld left his mark on the legend of Gabrielle Chanel and the history of the House of CHANEL. He steadfastly promoted the talent and expertise of CHANEL’s ateliers and Métiers d’Art, allowing this exceptional know-how to shine throughout the world. The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by – to quote Karl – ‘continuing to embrace the present and invent the future’.”
In 2017, thanks to his influence, Chanel celebrated its 16th Métiers d’Art show, honoring the finest Arts and Crafts from its artisan collaborators, which have a special place in the brand’s collections. The runway show happened outside the traditional fashion schedule and honored his thoughts: “nothing is more modern than antiquity”. His historical and cultural exploration of the past was the seed to many ideas which inspired his iconic collections.
Every year, Chanel chooses a different location to honor the workshops which provide everything from lace to silver buttons and fine embroidery work. Paris, Salzburg, Dallas, Edinburg, Mumbai and New York were some of the cities in which this special event took place over the years. Hamburg, Karl Lagerfeld’s hometown, was the elected site for 2017.
Allowing the audience to step inside the ateliers, Karl Lagerfeld showed to the world the fascinating behind the scenes of with Lesage, Desrues, Lemarié, Maison Michel, Massaro and many other houses dedicated to the finest craftsmanship.The artisans from Chanel’s and its partners’ workshops show how precious savoir faire is, especially when associated to contemporary creativity.
Lagerfeld began to promote Métiers d’Art as a concept in 2002 in order to celebrate the efforts of the ateliers acquired by Chanel. Desrues, Chanel’s longtime button supplier, was the first artisanal maison which became a collaborator, in 1985, however, nowadays, there are 26 maisons representing every imaginable fashion expertise, including gloves (Causse), millinery (Maison Michel), goldsmiths (Goossens), and cashmere (Barrie). His will to preserve the endangered arts and crafts and to support master artisans was remarkable.
However, we can’t forget that this remarkable designer was also the creative director of the leather designs’ fashion house Fendi and designed for several other brands, including Chloé. He collaborated with a variety of fashion and artistic projects, always trying to search for the highest quality and the most innovative and creative ideas.
The world will definitely never forget his incontestable influence. We will all miss his unique style, signature white hair, black sunglasses, fingerless gloves, and high, starched detachable collars. Nevertheless, we know for sure Lagerfeld’s impact will last and his outstanding creations will always be his legacy to the creative field.
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