fashion

The unknown Karl: A man who didn't believe in sex with a partner, and never disclosed his birthday.

For fans of fashion, the iconic look of dark sunglasses, white ponytail and black leather gloves will always belong to one of the most prolific designers of the modern age – Karl Lagerfeld.

The creative director of Chanel has died at the age of 85, after weeks of illness believed to have been pancreatic cancer.

He spent 30 years at the helm of the iconic fashion house, but it’s the details of his personal life not his fashion front that paint the picture of  the fascinating man behind the truly larger than life character and icon that was Karl.

Speaking of fashion, here are our most expensive fashion splurges. Post continues after video.

One of Lagerfeld’s most interesting quirks was the fact he refused to sleep with anyone he loved, instead he went to high class escorts for sexual pleasure.

“I don’t like sleeping with people I really love. I don’t want to sleep with them because sex cannot last, but affection can last forever. I think this is healthy,” he told Vice magazine.

“For the way the rich live, this is possible. But for the other world, I think they need porn,” he added.

His love life was rarely spoken about, but arguably one of the most heartbreaking periods of Lagerfeld’s life was the death of his partner of two decades, Frenchman Jacqes de Bascher, a story he only told in 2017.

Karl and Jacques
Karl and his partner of two decades Jacques in Paris, 1979.
ADVERTISEMENT

Lagerfeld spent De Bascher's final days in 1989 beside his partner's hospital bed as he died of AIDS, aged 38.

He never had a relationship again.

The other love of Lagerfeld's life was his pampered cat Choupette.

He even admitted once, he would have tied the knot with her if he could because she was his soulmate.

Last April, he told Numero magazine he wanted to be buried with her.

As well as an eye for fashion, Lagerfeld had a deep love of culture and a respect for learning - speaking four languages.

His home close to the Boulevard Saint-German in Paris houses a library of 300,000 titles.

The early days

Lagerfeld spent his childhood in Hamburg Germany, but the designer never publicly revealed his birthday - it was believed to have been September 10th, 1933.

He's always evaded the topic of his youth, except to compare himself to Shirley Temple and to call himself "unbearable and spoilt."

He grew up in a Germany that had Hitler at the helm, but Lagerfeld claimed he was cut off from knowledge about the Nazis.

He also said he knew he was gay from the age of 13. Something his family accepted with open arms.

His father was a businessman who ran a prosperous evaporated milk company, but it was his mother Elisabeth, a lingerie salesperson, who had a powerful influence.

Lagerfeld described her as "perfect" but those who have heard glimpses of stories call it something else..

"Whenever he has described her parenting to me, it sounds terrifying; banging the piano lid on her son's fingers when he was practising, ordering him to draw instead because it 'made less noise' and ridiculing him at every opportunity - his hands were ugly, his nostrils too wide his hair absurd," described Justine Picardie in Harper's Bizarre.

To get up to date with today's news, listen to The Quicky.

Lagerfeld developed a reputation for jumping labels

Lagerfeld's love for fashion came from a a Dior fashion show he attended with his mother as a child.

As a teenager in the 50s he left home with the blessing of his parents to study in Paris.

He found a job at the haute couture house of Balmain after winning a prize in a 1954 fashion competition with a design for a coat.

Three years later he moved to the House of Patou. Then after stints as a freelancer for Chloe he was hired by Fendi in 1967.

Early on Lagerfeld, who was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt dropped the 't' from his last name to make it sound more "commercial."

ADVERTISEMENT

His career at Chanel began in 1983 a decade after Coco Chanel died.

Of that time, he said; "I had been warned 'do not take Chanel it's awful' and when I arrived she [Coco] had been dead for 10 years and everyone lived in respect of her memory.

"If you want to kill a house, show [her] respect," he told Madame Figaro magazine.

He brought what was thought of as a near-dead brand back to life with a new and popular fashion line of ready-to-wear clothes. He also integrated the famous 'CC' monogram of Coco Chanel as a styled pattern.

In 1984, a year later, Lagerfeld launched his own brand build around what he called "intellectual sexiness." He later sold it to Tommy Hilfiger in 2005.

Up until his death, by which point he'd been in fashion for 60 years having always been a "workaholic", Lagerfeld was artistic director of three separate brands at the same time; Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous line.

His legacy

Lagerfeld had a keen sense for the spectacle of fashion, his Paris Fashion Week shows for Chanel involved fashion pieces like icebergs and towering cruise ships.

Celebrities like Rhianna, Marion Cotillard and Keira Knightly packed his front rows.

His dresses were - and will likely continue to be - worn by princesses and A-listers.

Chanel Cruise
Karl's runways were never run of the mill. This was his Chanel Cruise runway in May, 2018.

He was a titan of the industry and is credited by many for changing fashion's place in the universe with his success at Chanel giving other luxury brands a blueprint for how to revamp historic fashion houses that had grown dusty -  Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Burberry.

In the fickle world of fashion, Lagerfeld always stayed relevant - constantly refreshing Chanel's classics in ways to hold shoppers' interest for decades.

ADVERTISEMENT

As his designs made their way into the world of "knockoffs," Lagerfeld turned his hand to the mainstream.

He collaborated on limited edition Diet Coke bottles, designed a line for H&M in 2004 and even wrote a book called "The Karl Lagerfeld diet" that retailed for $15.34.

After the release of the H&M line, the New Yorker wrote," Lagerfeld has achieved a level of fame usually reserved for pop stars and movie idols."

A sharp tongue

Lagerfeld was no stranger to controversy and over the years shocked with his acid-tongue.

Some of his quips were just plain funny:

"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat."

"I'm very much down to earth, just not this earth."

Some, were...just plain rude.

In 2012, he said of singer Adele; "She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice."

After Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding he said her sister Pippa "had a nice silloutte" but that she "struggles."

"I don't like her face, they should only show her back," he remarked.

When talking about Seal he said; "I am no dermatologist, but I wouldn't want his skin, mine looks better than his. He is covered in craters."

No one was immune to Lagerfeld's tongue, he even said of Princess Diana; "She was pretty and sweet, but she was stupid."

And yet the tributes flow..

For a man who changed the face of fashion forever.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP ????x vb

A post shared by Victoria Beckham (@victoriabeckham) on

ADVERTISEMENT

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Rest in peace ????

A post shared by Kristen Stewart (@kristenstewartx) on

ADVERTISEMENT

00:00 / ???