Chanel’s couture collection for Fall 1983 was the beginning of a new fashion legacy that would shift fashion’s zeitgeist for generations to come. It was Karl Lagerfeld’s first show at Chanel after the still-looming death of founder Coco Chanel in 1971 — no pressure.
Succeeding a woman as powerful and successful as Coco Chanel was no easy feat, either. The Karl Lagerfeld we praise would accept the challenge, probably while petting Choupette like a scene from The Godfather (1972). However, the enigmatic workaholic and creative genius that we know and remember today once started as the anxious newcomer. The eyes of scrutiny from die-hard Chanel buyers and judgment from loyal Chanel-loving journalists were staring directly at him during this show.
It was a hit and a star was born.
Lagerfeld has since become synonymous with fashion. “I design like I breathe,” he says in April 1983 (“Karl Lagerfeld: The Banker’s Holiday”). “You don’t ask to breathe. It just happens.”
They simply cannot be separated one from the other anymore. Season after season, Lagerfeld expanded the Chanel woman from being a high-society socialite to someone more approachable with bursts of vitality. And lots of tweed. Beyond the Classic Flaps in caviar leather and Boy bags in calfskin, what Lagerfeld created was an immersive world that only he was capable of creating: whether it be a grocery store in Fall 2014, where there were Chanel carts and milk bags, or a care-free beach for Spring 2019. The possibilities were endless with Lagerfeld.
Karl Lagerfeld’s work, currently on display in the SCAD Museum of Art’s lobby
We, alongside the fashion community, mourn the loss of Karl Lagerfeld and his genius. Influencers like Bryanboy, other fashion icons like Naomi Campbell, and more have shared their love for the designer on this day.
Lagerfeld will always be remembered as a leader, our favorite cat-dad, a witty intellectual and, most of all, an original.
To view Karl Lagerfeld’s work for yourself, visit the SCAD Museum of Art where photographs by Karl Lagerfeld were donated by the iconic designer himself.