Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in September 1938. A cosmopolitan education and knowledge of languages enabled him to finish his studies in Paris.
In 1955 he won the first prize in the contest organized by the secrétariat international de la laine (International Wool Association). The coat the young winner designed was produced by Pierre Balmain and at 17 Lagerfeld became the great designer’s assistant. He stayed with him for three years before becoming art director for Jean Patou, where he remained for five satisfying but unusually calm years, for his taste. This relative freedom allowed him to deepen his knowledge in subjects that had passionately interested him for years: history, architecture, music and especially eighteenth-century French. When ready-to-wear came into its own at the beginning of the 60s, he plunged into a career as an independent stylist in France, Italy, England and Germany. The concept of fur needed modernization to become a viable element of fashion. So, the House of FENDI called on Lagerfeld-a collaboration that continues to this day. Perfume is as important as fashion for Lagerfeld, so in 1975 he launched “CHLOE”. He became the first great ready-to-wear designer to brand a scent globally without first having his own designer label. Then followed “LAGERFELD” for men in 1978, “PHOTO” in 1991, “JAKO” in 1998 and Kapsule, the first fragrance collaboration with the Coty group in 2008.
In 1984 he created his own line “KARL LAGERFELD” while continuing both his collaboration with the house of CHANEL, where he was named art director in 1983, and his longstanding collaboration with FENDI. He also signed the new collections for CHLOE from 1992 to 1997. His constant interest in new experiences led Lagerfeld to illustrate Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. He created as well opera costumes for La Scala, the Florence opera house, the Burgtheater of Vienna and for the Salzbourg festival, and the Monte-Carlo ballet. He decided to move behind the lens in 1987, with his first press kit, and from this time on Lagerfeld created his own advertising campaigns. His passion for photography and for books transformed his campaigns into veritable art books (published by Steidl), while continuing photo shoots for prestigious fashion magazines.
In 1998 he began a new adventure. He launched his own label, LAGERFELD GALLERY. November 1999 saw the opening of the bookshop “7L”, followed by the publishing company “EDITIONS 7L” in October 2000. He had now become publisher and bookshop owner.In 2000 Lagerfeld changed his look, redefining his image. Will-power and a drastic self-imposed diet helped him lose 42 kilograms (93 lbs) giving up a style that no longer fitted his personality. He wrote a book “THE 3D DIET” (Designer, Doctor, Diet) about his unusual experience. It sold in the tens of thousands throughout the world.
In 2004 Lagerfeld designed a collection of 30 models for the giant company, H&M, under the “Karl Lagerfeld for H&M” label. In 2008, he enters Le Petit Larousse Illustré (French dictionary).
In 2010, Karl Lagerfeld receives The Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York.
In January 2012, he launches the KARL LAGERFELD brand’s new concept. A vision of accessible luxury exclusively on Internet. The first KARL LAGERFELD store opened one year later, boulevard Saint-Germain, favorite neighborhood of the designer… Followed by many stores (Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Beijing, Shanghai among many others around the world).