On February 19, the fashion industry was met with the death of one of fashion's most influential figures. He was responsible for popularizing Channel's iconic double C Logo and the legacy he left behind is a footprint in fashion that cannot possibly be forgotten. That Karl Lagerfeld was a brilliant desgner is unquestionable, as were his damaging, controversial comments. While it is respectable to praise Lagerfeld's work after his passing, it is also important to keep in mind the implicit social influences he had on society.
One of the most prolific designers in the history of fashion, Lagerfeld's career spanned 65 years. True to his reputation for his diligence, Lagerfeld worked incessantly throughout the years and, naturally, the list of collectins that he created is quite impressive. In an attempt to remain an enigma in the public's eye, he kept his background concealed. His carrer, however, was one dynamic train ride. He went from working for Pierre Balmain and Jean Patou to creating his own brand, leaving an unforgettable mark on society.
The Revival of Brands
One of Lagerfeld's most powerful legacies would have to be his ability to revitalize brands that were struggling to find new direction. His work that truly changed the fashion industry began when he became the head designer at Chloe and released the brand's first perfume. Chloe's perfumes are now steadily best-sellers. His work at Fendi introduce leather goods and exotic furs to fashion. He applied new approaches to his designs, leaving indelible traces within the fashion realm. The revival of Channel is, however, the biggest mark that Lagerfeld left that perpetually changed the course of fashion. He instigated a modern, youthful theme into his designs and anticipated trends, quickly bringing glory back to the static brand.
These well-known accomplishments of Lagerfeld have enduring effects on society and his passing marks the end, and a new start, of a chapter in fashion. The bar has been re-set for modern fashion designers, and high fasion pieces are no longer about following the trend but staying ahead of it. It is clearer now that the majority of ideals we take for granted in the fashion industry have been sparked by Lagerfeld's passion for fashion. When he said fur and animal skins were hip, it was so; and when he said they should be banned, it was done. He held immense power over society and it is important to keep this in mind for any other influential designers.
Words Cut Deeper Than Knives
Despite Lagerfeld's numerous trophies present in the fashion field, his sphere of influence extended far beyong his designs and shows. This meant that his comments carried a lot of weight as they were pronounced to a global audience. His largely controversial thought have, on multiple occasions, been the center of attention and were equally as scandalous as his designs, only for different reasons. From Islamophobia, to sexism, to racism, Lagerfeld never thought to hold his tongue in front of the press. As influential of a figure as he was, making statements like these could have promoted such ideas and decelerated the positive change that people were trying to bring into society.
Comments on body figures were no exception to Lagerfeld's list of preposterous comments. His comments on appearance held a lot of weight because his occupation was one that had everything to do with appearance. His status in the fashion industry allowed him to set trends and standards, but comments like "simply too heavy" or "a little too fat" fueled unreasonable beauty standards in people and have brought about callous effects on society. Lagerfeld truly believed that fashion is "the healthiest motivation for losing weight," and this ludicrous outlook was reflected in his shows, giving him the ability to mold other people's views on fashion.
How He Is Remembered
It is without a doubt that, as news of Lagerfeld's death has spread, a wide range of people have taken to social media to pay their respects and tributes to him. "Karl, your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you," said Donatella Versace. Other renowned fashion designers like Marc Jacobs, models like Cara Delevingne, and musicians like Miley Cyrus honored his creative, extraordinary talent. This extensive range of people he had managed to touch throughout his fashion career clearly shows the effect he had on people. His work was indeed inspirational to many.
On the other hand, there were a few people who called out Lagerfeld for the damage his comments have done to society. Jameela Jamil expressed her disdain on twitter by referring to him as "a ruthless, fat-phobic misogynist" and acknowledged that he was "talented for sure, but not the best person." While this judgment is not entirely inaccurate, it does come across as disrespectful to voice such opinions while others are still mourning. Cara Delevingne responded to these statements by writing, "he was not a saint, he is a human being like all of us who made mistakes and we should all have the change to be forgiven for that." All these arguments are part of a valid assertion that Lagerfeld's legacy is one that is undoubtedly complex.
Karl Lagerfeld was undeniably a one-of-a-kind fashion designer. What he left behind will shape fashion for years to come, but it is critical to keep in mind that legacy includes not only his designs but also his words and actions. For someone who was capable of creating so much beauty, his words were beyond crude and with his death comes an end to all the abusive rhetoric that encouraged negativity in an ever-changing society. What is wrong is wrong and these parts should not be overlooked when remembering Lagerfeld. If the fashion industry does not acknowledge, much less criticize, the darker side of Lagerfeld's traits just because he was a genius, it risks allowing the same traits to reappear in society and halt a progressive future.