Curating luxury for the discerning traveller



With his swept-back silver ponytail, immovable dark glasses, and that impeccably tailored black jacket and tie silhouette – which alters only fractionally with the sartorial demands of the season – Karl Lagerfeld is one of the most recognisable personalities in fashion.

While his exact age is open to interpretation (the German-born designer is thought to well into his his eighth decade), 2013 sees Lagerfeld celebrate 30 years at the design helm of French super-brand Chanel. He is famous for resurrecting the Parisian- born label from a comatose state in the eighties to a fashion empire which today turns over an estimated £2billion a year. “He has an intuition and ability to foresee trends while having at the same time great knowledge and respect for the past,” says Joanna Przetakiewicz, creative director of Polish label La Mania, and both mentee and friend of Lagerfeld. “It is this unique ability to reinterpret the characteristic codes of Chanel that has kept the brand at the same time modern and timeless.” What is amazing is that Lagerfeld has completed this phenomenal resurrection alongside his work with Italian accessories giant Fendi (a relationship which has lasted even longer than his three decades with Chanel), and a spell in the nineties at fellow French fashion house Chloé. Take into account the fact that he also has three of his own collections – premium label Karl Lagerfeld Paris, menswear arm Lagerfeld, and the embryonic KARL, a cosmopolitan, younger aesthetic launched in 2012 and sold exclusively online through Net-a-Porter, and you can understand why his ferocious worth ethic is well documented.

“He gives people what they don’t even know they want yet,” explains Ian Wright, fashion director at industry bible Drapers. “He’s so in touch with what’s out there and what’s cool, but he never repackages anything he sees in a derivative way. That’s the clever thing about him.” It is this drive to hunt out the next big thing that has helped extend Lagerfeld’s staying power to such a lengthy duration. There are myriad examples of his ability to set trends and push boundaries, froths theatrical Chanel shows - in recent seasons we have seen giant suspended silver globes, full-sized wind turbines, and Paris’ Grand Palais, decked out like a luxury jet - to his column inch-dominating accessories, such as this spring’s brightly-coloured plexiglass clutch boxes and hula hoop handbags. An ongoing selection brand tie-ups, including the first designer collaboration for Swedish high-street giant H&M in 2004, his candy-striped Diet Coke bottles sold exclusively through Harvey Nichols in 2011, and this year’s link up with quirky Brazilian footwear label Melissa, ensures he is omnipresent when it comes to commercial genre, fashion style, or financial capabilities: anyone can buy into a piece of Karl.

Feb 8th 2013

“You don’t necessarily see many direct London style influences in his Chanel collections – I wouldn’t have thought the spring/summer 2012 giant underwater scenes on the catwalk came from the streets of Dalston – but you can definitely see he is looking to London’s cool when he selects muses,” explains Ian. Lagerfeld’s current love for the capital’s bright young things include ‘It girl’ and model du jour Cara Delevingne, who has walked the catwalk for Chanel and fronts the new Fendi campaign; his ongoing relationship with Keira Knightley, who recently took on the coveted role of Coco Chanel herself in this year’s Lagerfeld-directed Once Upon A Time film short; and singers such as Rihanna and Rita Ora, who have frequented Chanel front rows and ensure Lagerfeld scoops up the emerging hipster market alongside his more traditional Chanel customer.

While his own labels do not currently retail ion a bricks and mortar shop in the capital, Chanel and Fendi ready-to-wear are both stocked in Harrods and Selfridges. For a more brand immersive experience, try Fendi’s flagship store on Sloane Street or Chanel’s brand new 12,600 square-foot Maison on New Bond Street. Often as well known for his outspoken and direct oratory style as his fashion finesse, newly released tome The World According To Karl by Jean-Christophe Napias, Sandrine Gulbenkian and Patrick Mauriès (Thames & Hudson) documents this in a beautifully graphic way. It’s widely available in most good book shops in the city. Proof, if any were required, that Lagerfeld really does live up to his moniker as fashion’s Kaiser. |


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