Karl Lagerfeld passes away: Indian fashion fraternity reflects on an indomitable icon's influence

A day after the designer's passing, prominent personalities from the Indian fashion fraternity spoke of the impact Karl Lagerfeld had had on them.

Sushmita Murthy February 20, 2019 18:51:04 IST
Karl Lagerfeld passes away: Indian fashion fraternity reflects on an indomitable icon's influence
  • A day after the designer's passing, prominent personalities from the Indian fashion fraternity spoke of the impact Karl Lagerfeld had had on them.

  • Designer Nachiket Barve, for instance, noted Lagerfeld's ability to "take something, shake it up and make it irreverent".

  • Delhi-based designer Anupama Dayal said Lagerfeld, for her, embodied individualism, fearlessness and irreverence.

"Luxury should be worn like you're going to the supermarket. It's the pop art of the 21st century."

When Karl Lagerfeld passed away on 19 February 2019, at the age of 85 (most likely, since the year of his birth is disputed), he left behind a somewhat troubled legacy.

On the one hand, Lagerfeld was a giant in the world of fashion — having headed the houses of Fendi (since the 1960s) and Chanel (from 1983 onwards) as creative director. He was both an inspired designer and shrewd businessman — he made collaborations a staple of the fashion industry, and propelled the 108-year-old Chanel brand to a $10 billion company in 2018. He did this by achieving a delicate balance between accessibility and exclusivity. Alongside, he pursued a range of creative endeavours (a publishing imprint and photography, for instance), and the shows he helmed for Chanel were nothing short of a spectacle or performance art. Tributes poured in from Donatella Versace and Victoria Beckham among others.

Karl Lagerfeld passes away Indian fashion fraternity reflects on an indomitable icons influence

In this November 1973 photo, German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, centre, poses with models in Krefeld, Germany. AP Photo

However, as several thinkpieces after his death have noted, Lagerfeld's publicly expressed views were at times racist, lookist and misogynistic; last year, he spoke dismissively of the #MeToo movement.

A day after the designer's passing, prominent personalities from the Indian fashion fraternity spoke of the impact Lagerfeld had had on them.

Smita Lasrado, the co-founder of modelling and casting agency Feat. Artists, had walked for Chanel's much talked about 'Paris-Bombay' show in 2011. She recounted: "Working with Karl was definitely a wonderful experience. His attention to detail was unparalleled. He worked with so many different brands with so many different sensibilities. And they were all successful. Clearly he was exceptionally skilled and knowledgeable."

"I only exchanged a few words with him during my fittings for the show. However, it is interesting to note that he introduced himself to each new model and asked us how we felt in our assigned look. It’s not something he needed to do, but I believe he knew how important it is to make people feel special. And I think that’s why he had so much love in the industry. It’s a sad day but we must continue to celebrate the man who contributed so much to the world of fashion," Lasrado added.

In 1954, Lagerfeld had entered a fashion competition called the International Wool Secretariat and won the top prize in the coat category. More than 60 years later, designer Nachiket Barve was named the regional winner for 2016-17 of the International Woolmark Prize, as the competition is now known.

Karl Lagerfeld passes away Indian fashion fraternity reflects on an indomitable icons influence

In this July 1996 file photo, Karl Lagerfeld is surrounded by Canadian model Linda Evangelista, left, and British model Naomi Campbell, right, and other models after the presentation of his 1996-97 fall-winter haute couture fashion collection for Chanel in Paris. AP Photo

For Barve, Lagerfeld is unparalleled in terms of the longevity and prolific-ness of his career. "To design for houses such as Chanel and Fendi over many, many decades and be so relevant and so driven even in his mid-eighties — I don’t think that is ever going to happen again," Barve said. "Most people look at retiring in their 60s! The secret to his longevity was that he took so much interest in his own self. His famous sweat pant quote comes from there, I think."

Barve noted Lagerfeld's ability to "take something, shake it up and make it irreverent". He also contrasted Lagerfeld to Chanel's legendary founder and pointed out: "In the strangest way, in his personal style, Lagerfeld was an anti-thesis to Coco Chanel, but also very much like her. She had her tweed suit, pearls, camellia and he had his white collar, Chrome Heart jewellery etc."

Professing that the name (of Lagerfeld) is one that "both inspires and intimidates", designer Nikhil Thampi said, "Karl Lagerfeld is an icon, he is an emotion, he is an aspiration, and he is now eternal".

Among the facets of Lagerfeld's persona that Thampi admired were "his love for monochrome, his version of power dressing, his obsession with sunglasses — and the fact that he loved to give his audience an experience through his art".

Delhi-based designer Anupama Dayal said Lagerfeld, for her, embodied individualism and fearlessness in expressing one's opinions ("which is really what fashion is about," she said) and irreverence.

"Fashion is all about responding to the moment and dressing is ammunition to address the moment," Dayal said. "What inspired me would be the continuity of his work. He never paused, there were no long breaks. He showed a great deal of diversity, responsiveness and adaptation. He worked till the end. In that sense, it was a very full life and a full contribution to fashion."

Updated Date:

also read

Imaginary deaths, real grief: Thai artist honours fallen anime heroes by exhibiting their portraits at a Bangkok gallery
Arts & Culture

Imaginary deaths, real grief: Thai artist honours fallen anime heroes by exhibiting their portraits at a Bangkok gallery

Japanese anime and manga enjoy mainstream popularity in the kingdom, with frequent conventions held in pre-pandemic Bangkok that would draw massive crowds of cosplayers.

Former US President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn celebrate 75 years of marriage
Arts & Culture

Former US President Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn celebrate 75 years of marriage

In a recent interview, the 39th president told The Associated Press that the couple’s marriage is “a full partnership.”

Queen Elizabeth visits sets of Coronation Street, world's longest-running television soap opera, to commemorate its 60th year
Entertainment

Queen Elizabeth visits sets of Coronation Street, world's longest-running television soap opera, to commemorate its 60th year

The show has twice briefly paused production and has switched to socially distanced episodes with actors two metres apart, using camera tricks to make them look closer.