A Look Back At Karl Lagerfeld’s Most Iconic Designs

In honour of the late fashion designer’s legendary career, we look back at some of his best and most iconic designs

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It is with deep sadness that the House of CHANEL announces the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, the Creative Director for the CHANEL Fashion House since 1983. An extraordinary creative individual, Karl Lagerfeld reinvented 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. Regarding 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.” A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films. The House of CHANEL benefited from his talent for all the branding campaigns related to Fashion since 1987. Finally, one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery. Alain Wertheimer, CEO of CHANEL, said: “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’.” Virginie Viard, Director of CHANEL’s Fashion Creation Studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on.

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Whilst the legendary Karl Lagerfeld has sadly passed on, he will never be forgotten. He has truly left his mark on the fashion industry at a global level with his show-stopping designs and excellent leadership of fashion brands, bringing them to greater heights. Time and time again, he displayed his perceptive and astute fashion sense that showcased he was always ahead of his peers.

A true visionary, Karl has created the most exquisite and memorable pieces. Here, we pay homage to the designer by looking back at his most iconic designs throughout his career.

The double ‘C’ interlocking logo for Chanel, late 1980’s

Photo: Instagram/Chanelofficial

First things first. Chanel’s now globally iconic double interlocking ‘c’ logo was in fact Karl Lagerfeld’s idea. When he took over the powerhouse fashion brand back in 1983 as its artistic director, he created this new logo to modernise the brand.

Whether it was inspired by ‘Coco Chanel’ or by the ‘Chateau de Cremat’ in Nice that Chanel herself often visited, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that Karl created something so simple, so elegant, and so darn effective, it is now undeniable that the logo is the brand.

The Chanel guitar 2009

Photo: Instagram/luxuryhandbagsuk

Whether you were a musician or not, you cannot help but admire Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel cc-logo’d guitar with matching case that he sent down his S/S ‘09 Chanel ready-to-wear runway. The guitar itself was completely black with white accents, and the case was white and quilted — the typical Chanel fabric. Worn over the shoulder where, normally, we’d expect a handbag to be, the Chanel guitar was just a little ‘something’ to show off his out-of-the-box design ideas.

The multi-layered pearl necklace, Chanel 2006

Photo: Instagram/vuittonglam

Karl was always so talented when it came to accessories — he was able to inject energy into the most traditional or tired pieces. Take pearls, for example. A statement item associated with Chanel, the pearl necklace is (or do we say, was prior to Lagerfeld) often thought to be a stuffy choice for the older generation from an era long gone by.

Back in the early noughties, Karl created the multi-layered pearl necklace, which continued throughout the years to be a main feature in his collections. Worn by many celebrities, the double layer pearl necklace also made an appearance in 2006 romcom ‘The Devil Wears Prada’ when Anne Hathaway’s character emerged with a new sense of style.

The Hula Hoop Bag, Chanel 2013

Photo: Instagram/leahmcqueenphotography

Back in 2013, Karl decided to make a giant handbag out of two hula hoops – because why not? The full sized bag was just for the runway and never made it into production, but a smaller version was then made to be bought, at US$2,400.

The idea behind it was ever practical, as he explained — it was predominantly a beach focus bag. Big enough to hold your essentials including your towel, slides and a change of clothes, along with the hoops to hang your items on too. What a genius.

Nature-themed recyclable couture collection, Chanel 2016

Photo: YouTube/Chanel

If you’re the kind of person who assumed Karl was always a lavish ‘no expense spared’ kind of designer, you’d be wrong. Back in 2016 for his spring haute couture collection, he wanted to showcase Chanel’s ode to sustainability.

From the runway set to the ensembles — everything was entirely recyclable. For his handmade designs, he used natural materials that included wood, cork and straw. Of course, all created in the house style of Chanel — visually beautiful, sophisticated and elegant.

Whilst sustainability in the fashion industry made a mammoth surge last year in 2018, back in 2016 it was still a relatively new concept, particularly for luxury designer labels. Once again, Karl showed us all that he was way ahead of the times.

The iconic pink ruffle gown, Chanel 2017

Photo: Instagram/Lilyrose_depp

To end his S/S ‘17 runway show for Chanel, Karl used modern day muse Lily Rose Depp as his finale model, draping her in the most incredible pink gown, created with endless tulle ruffles. The dress was marvelled by all.

Cara Delevingne Met Gala suit, 2017

Photo: Instagram/Caradelevingne

Cara Delevingne has been closely associated with Chanel for many years — she’s a close friend to the designer and a muse to the label. So it came as no shock that the brand designed her very special Met Gala outfit in 2017 — the theme being avant garde, inspired by Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons.

Her silver sci-fi inspired suit had a deep plunging neckline and was embellished everywhere with crystal gems. The final touch was a large silver waist belt. Bold? Yes. Daring? Sure. But of course, Cara looked epic in it.

The Fendi ‘baguette’

Photo: Instagram/Fendi

Karl didn’t actually design Fendi’s most iconic handbag — the baguette bag. It was designed by Silvia Venturini herself, many moons ago. However, since Karl got his hands on the brand, he turned the traditional handbag into an iconic cult fashion piece, reworking every new season with new designs. Once again, he injected his unique sense of vision into something, and it paid off.

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