When many think of fashion, they think of Karl Lagerfeld.
He embodied a kind of elegance and cachet that you’d undoubtedly expect from the creative director of Chanel. But he also brought playfulness and excitement to the brand upon his appointment in 1983, something that seemed completely fresh for the fashion house.
With the news of Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, it will be his legacy as a designer that’ll be missed as much as the iconic man himself.
From the Coco-esque twists including pearls and tweed to the more revealing and risque fabrics and features in his clothes, there was an element of futuristic classic. He always kept us on our toes.
Let’s look back at some of his best Chanel looks.
Channeling Coco Chanel in this staid yet sexy RTW collection just a year after his introduction to the house. Hemlines were brought above the knee, and shoulders were given an 80s twist, but the old-school 20s glamour remained in the pearls and stockings.
In this Tokyo showcase in 1985, you can see more of the 20s sillhouette Karl aimed to keep in his debut collections. He believed that the brand needed to be freed from its 50s image, and wanted something more svelte.
You’d be forgiven for thinking that this Karl’s personal look, with the voluminous collar and plush quilting.
The vibrant gold hardware is also a tell that this is Lagerfeld’s work, as he began to branch out on Chanel’s more staid buttons and fastenings.
Texture is an important part of his tenure at Chanel, and nothing shows that off more than this structural shawl from 1987.
It’s around about this time that we see Karl start playing with the iconic boxy suit jacket that Chanel is famous for.
With punky tartan (very fitting for the time) and flirty lace, it’s all tied together.
Once again it’s ‘that’ suit, just not as we know it.
We see Lagerfeld moving away from his precious aversion to colour and going for bright neon pops.
Remember those ubiquitous pearls? What if they were blown up and placed all over the garments? Now you don’t need to imagine.
Bridal couture is often overlooked, but Claudia Schiffer and Karl Lagerfeld were always a match made in heaven.
Peep the gold detailing on the zip, and imagine any of your favourite 90s rom-com stars wearing this down the aisle.
In 1994, Chanel went for the big branding and cheeky nods to their usual detailing, on bikinis, towels, underwear.
Given that Karl was a pioneer of the back-to-back C design’s resurgence, as well as plenty of jokey touches in ready-to-wear, it definitely fits.
Parisian style is embodies here in this elegant dress worn by none other than Naomi Campbell.
Despite the demure shape and neckline, there sheer bodice keeps it young.
This is pretty much the most 2001/2002 outfit imaginable, and the touches like the helmet really bring it together. We want one.
Lagerfeld always said he preferred beige for winter dressing, as evidenced in this butter-soft combo.
Chanel’s Cruise shows saw clothes coming secondary to the insane theatrics of it all. The branding master struck again.
Many of us remember this bag from when Gia Gunn entered the Ru Paul’s Drag Race work room with it, but here is its debut back in 2013.
It’s both the most and least practical item available, and a welcome antidote to the daintiness of some designer bags.
Haute Couture was where Lagerfeld shone (despite originally saying it wasn’t quick enough for him in the 80s), as you can see from this swan lake style dress for A/W 12/13.
‘Plus ça change’ as they say. Primary colours and psychadelic shapes took to PFW under Lagerfeld’s name (and with a bit of black lace for good measure).
Who could forget the Chanel supermarket? It felt like pop art and fashion and daily life had a baby, and we loved it.
Signature Lagerfeld always meant clothes full of fun, dripping in gold, and using colour to its advantage to create a mood.
Rest in Couture Karl.