Tamo kipshidze

Elegance is an Attitude

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On Tuesday morning, Chanel announced that Karl Lagerfeld, its creative director since 1983, had died at age 85. Despite his age, the news comes as a shock: Lagerfeld—as his many quips readily showed—was as alert as ever, and up until his death he was still churning out around 14 collections per year, in addition to pursuing his career as a photographer and maintaining his role as the creative director of Fendi, which he first took on back in 1965. (Not to mention running his own namesake label.) Still, there were some signs that all might not be well chez Lagerfeld; less than a month ago, the designer failed to appear at both of Chanel’s couture shows.
Born in Germany in 1933, Lagerfeld moved to Paris as a teenager, where he began his career by assisting Pierre Balmain. And while he preferred to keep his personal life private—save for his love for his cat Choupette, a fashion personality in her own right and a multimillionaire—the outpouring of tributes to the designer following the announcement of his death on Tuesday proved that practically all of fashion was his family.
Above all, Lagerfeld’s talent lay in knowing how to develop a brand, as evidenced by his instantly recognizable appearance; in recent years, he was practically always outfitted in a black and white ensemble, fingerless gloves, oversize sunglasses, and a white ponytail. Increasingly, he also made his presence known via a seemingly endless stream of inflammatory quips, which ranged from shutdowns of Meryl Streep to edicts like “sweatpants are a sign of defeat.” As proven by another of his infamous quotes, “Chanel is an institution, and you have to treat an institution like a whore—and then you get something out of her,” not even his employer was safe from his critiques.

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