Completely unique—and proud of it—Karl Lagerfeld has basically dominated the fashion scene ever since he decided to grace us with his presence. His awards and accolades are almost too many to enumerate, so below are a couple of the big ol’ highlights…
1935 - Born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt in Hamburg, Germany, Karl is raised by wealthy parents and shielded from most of the deprivations of World War II.
1949 - At the tender age of 14, Karl hightails it to Paris, sensing (already) that his future lies in fashion. He enrolls at the Lycee Montaigne and majors in drawing and history.
1955 - After placing second in a design competition (he lost to some random dude name YVES SAINT LAURENT) sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, Karl is hired as Pierre Balmain’s assistant.
1958 - Karl moves on to Jean Patou, where he designs two haute couture collections a year…which is, by the way, a lot of work. His first collection is universally panned, with reporters bemoaning his low necklines and shapeless clothing.
1964 - After a few years spent, as he says, “studying life” Karl gets a gig designing part-time for Chloé. Two years in, he becomes head designer, and the brand blows up—shmancy clients like Jackie Kennedy and Grace Kelly go nuts for it.
1972 - Let’s add another big gig to the res, shall we? Karl starts doing furs and accessories for Fendi. The collaborations continue for years—until Karl becomes so entwined with the company that he is sometimes called the sixth Fendi child.
1983 - Ignoring his friends, who say the house is WAY over, Karl heads to Chanel. Yah, we know what happens next.
1984 - Ok, it’s time for a line of his own. The rave reviews flood in, with People mag saying “Tout Paris Applauds the Fashionable Vision of Karl Lagerfeld.”
1993 - Looking to shake things up at his black-and-white Fendi show, Karl hires Moana Pozzi, an adult film star to walk the runway. Anna Wintour is not feeling it, and she walks out of the show.
1994 - Karl uses a verse from the Qur’an in his Chanel Spring 1994 couture line, causing the Indonesian Muslim Scholars Council in Jakarta to call for a boycott of Chanel. Karl and Chanel both apologize, explaining that Karl got the design from a book on the Taj Mahal, thinking the text was from a love poem.
2002 - Heeey, more collabs! This time with Renzo Rosso of Diesel for a special denim collection, which sells out in record time, despite the price tags.
2004 - The king of reinvention himself, Karl is a slam-dunk to design the costumes for Madonna’s Re-Invention tour. Oh, and this is the year of his H&M collection—that sells out in two days. As in, 48 hours.
2007 - Though Karl is an accomplished photographer himself, he gets to be the camera’s subject for Rodolphe Marconi’s documentary Lagerfeld Confidential, in which K.L. shares his thoughts on, well, just about every topic under the sun.
2008 - After thoroughly dominating the fashion world, Karl lends his voice and personality to Grand Theft Auto IV, playing the host of the fictional radio station K109 - The Studio. About his eyebrow-raising choice he says, “They are the games of our times. Those games in a way changed the world…I prefer to be in a video game than to play with it. I would love to be a very nasty, politically incorrect character.”
2010 - The Couture Council of the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology creates a special award, just for Karl—because he really does deserve his own category—called the “The Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award.”
2012 - Love arrives in Karl’s life in the form of Choupette, a white cat gifted to the designer by model Baptiste Giabiconi. Choupette has appeared in several fashion spreads shot by Karl and has her own Twitter account. She loves antique lace and chooses to eat at the dinner table with Karl.
2013 - Karl decides it’s time to take on another medium with his first foray into directing: the short film, Once Upon a Time, starring Keira Knightley as Coco Chanel.
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