A few years ago, I was in Paris browsing the books at Colette (yes, I’m a fancy nerd) when I realized the store had both gotten very quiet and very attentive. Karl Lagerfeld was at the counter in his trademark black sunglasses, his white hair slicked back into a ponytail, and the collar on his shirt standing at attention.
While his cat Choupette was not with him, he had a look and an aura around him that made him seem devastatingly Important. Everyone in the shop seemed determined to maintain their surface cool while their insides were jumping up and down like kids hepped up on Fanta and recycled pizza at a Chuck E Cheese birthday party. The fashion icon had that effect on people.
Lagerfeld passed away today at the age of 85. The creative director of Chanel, Fendi, and his eponymous label had missed the 2019 Chanel Couture show at fashion week due to illness. The German designer started his long career in fashion under Pierre Balmain, founder of Balmain’s fashion house, in the 1950s. He rose to the top of the fashion world thanks to his talent and a seemingly endless string of well-received collections.
While fashion careers tend to burn out quickly, Lagerfeld maintained his place in the spotlight for decades thanks to his creative mind, his signature look, and his bold statements, including some downright controversial ones. While Lagerfeld famously said that he was “trying to make sure that [he] won’t be remembered,” it may be the one thing in his long, bright-burning life that he completely failed at.
Here are some of his more buzz-generating quotes:
“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.” (The World According to Karl)
“I’m a kind of fashion nymphomaniac who never gets an orgasm.” (Reuters)
“The iPod is genius. I have 300.” (The Guardian).
“When I was four I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday.” (Vogue)
“Vanity is the healthiest thing in life.” (BBC)
“Life is not a beauty contest, some [ugly people] are great. What I hate is nasty, ugly people. The worst is ugly short men. Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life—they are mean and they want to kill you.” (The Evening Standard)
“I’m rather pro-prostitution. I admire people who do it. It can’t be much fun. Thank goodness for it. People need relief or they become murderers.” (Refinery29)
“Normally, I don’t recommend me for wedding dresses – they all get a divorce.” (Vogue)
“Be politically correct, but please don’t bother other people with conversation about being politically correct, because that’s the end of everything. You want to create boredom? Be politically correct in your conversation.” (Vogue)
“Kate Middleton has a nice silhouette and she is the right girl for that boy. I like that kind of woman, I like romantic beauties. On the other hand, her sister struggles. I don’t like the sister’s face. She should only show her back.”(Daily Mail)
“The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.” (The Guardian)
“I’m not crazy to discuss fashion with men. I couldn’t care less about their opinion,” (New York Times).
“I am a sort of vampire, taking the blood of other people.” (Vogue)
On Yves Saint Laurent: “He is very middle-of-the-road French – very pied-noir, very provincial.” (The Guardian)
On selfies: “They are this horrible thing where you are distorted. The chin is too big, the head is too small. No, this is electronic masturbation.” (Vogue)
“There are not too many people with an opinion I care for.” (New York Times)
“I don’t know Heidi Klum. She was never known in France. Claudia Schiffer also doesn’t know who she is.” (Vogue)
“Chic is a kind of mayonnaise, either it tastes, or it doesn’t.” (Vogue)
“I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that.” (The World According to Karl)
“I have no human feelings.” (Vogue)
“The discussion of fur is childish.” (Vogue)
“I am very much down to Earth. Just not this earth.” (BBC)
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The House of KARL LAGERFELD shares, with deep emotion and sadness, the passing of its creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, on February 19, 2019, in Paris, France. He was one of the most influential and celebrated designers of the 21st century and an iconic, universal symbol of style. Driven by a phenomenal sense of creativity, Karl was passionate, powerful and intensely curious. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy as one of the greatest designers of our time, and there are no words to express how much he will be missed.