The fashion community is mourning the loss of a fashion icon: Karl Lagerfeld. SF State fashion students are grieving and recognizing the impact of his visions on the industry surrounding them.
Lagerfeld passed away due to health issues in Paris on Feb.19 at the age of 85.
Lagerfeld was the creative director for the fashion houses of Chanel and Fendi. He helped to redefine Chanel after joining in 1983. Not only are the brands he helped cultivate a large part of pop culture, but he himself became a style icon with his signature ponytail, dark blazer and jeans, gloves, boots and dark sunglasses.
Lagerfeld has always been outspoken about his beliefs in realms other than fashion. His body shaming and racist remarks, aversion to refugees, and doubt of victims of the #metoo movement have put him in hot water with the public. In one instance in his book, “The World According to Karl,” Lagerfeld praises thin bodies, saying “no one wants to see curvy women on the catwalk.”
Despite his controversies, his innovations within the fashion community have inspired many designers, including fashion students across the world.
Lauren Berengo is an SF State student who studied fashion in Paris. She recognizes Lagerfeld’s immense influence.
“There is not even words I could put together. I saw the news and it broke my heart a little bit,” said Berengo. “He was just an absolute icon. Anything I say is not going to give it justice on the influence he had on the whole industry.”
Fans of Lagerfeld left tributes outside of the flagship Chanel store in Paris after hearing about his passing.
Apparel and design student Khoa Tran recognized his height in the fashion hierarchy:
“His fashion authority, which is comparable to the one of Anna Wintour, the editor in chief of Vogue US magazine for decades, has dominated the industry,” said Tran.
Lagerfeld’s height in the fashion industry caused him to set an example and inspire other designers.
“Karl Lagerfeld has had a significant impact on the industry, especially with Chanel,” said Emilio Perez, a senior apparel and design student at SF State. “He left a big impression on everybody, but the way things are going with Kim Jones at Dior and Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton, it just leaves a new road for successes.”
Lagerfeld’s over-the-top fashion shows have set the bar for the highest level of fashion — Haute Couture. Not only were his designs jaw-dropping, but the way he presented them. In 2016, Fendi held a fashion show on Rome’s Trevi Fountain, making it one of the most iconic shows ever. In the most recent fashion week, Chanel built a French country house known as “Villa Chanel” to showcase their newest designs.
He and his brands have continued to thrive throughout the years despite immense controversy. Berengo believes that his talent is still present regardless of conflict.
“I don’t think there will be a designer who could discredit anything he has done, even if they don’t like him – his work is spectacular,” said Berengo.
Lagerfeld wished to be cremated and put with his mother and late partner, according to the 2017 biography, “Jacques de Bascher: Dandy de l’ombre.”
“I do not want a burial, nothing,” said Lagerfeld in the biography. “I arrived one day, and one day I will leave. But let it be said, there is no urgency.”
Despite his wishes for no funeral, his friends gathered for his cremation on Friday in France.
Lagerfeld’s legacy will forever be cemented in pop culture and in the fashion industry, influencing both fashion students and professional designers alike.