A portrait of Karl Lagerfeld by Antonio Marras.

What’s Karl Lagerfeld’s greatest contribution to fashion? An array of industry figures weigh in:


Karl Lagerfeld has set a unique design path ever since his first collections and collaborations with major luxury houses such as Fendi. Never has anyone deployed such inventiveness and coherence in fashion over such a long period. If I had to pinpoint the source of his talent, I would seek it in drawing: Karl sketches admirably well, he has an artist’s eye and a craftsman’s hand. He is a rare combination of a deep European culture, a keen sense of line and silhouette, and a continuously renewed passion for the tradition of artisanal professions whose know-how he invigorates with each collection. I am infinitely grateful to him for his friendship and his loyalty. He knows how deeply I respect and admire him.” — Bernard Arnault


“I doubt that Karl Lagerfeld has ever been bored in his life. He takes his inspiration from so many places and so many things. He took on the codes of Coco Chanel’s iconic brand and injected it with a spirit and creativity that has kept it modern and relevant to women of all ages. He has such energy and such incredible influence, not just as a fashion designer of Chanel and Fendi, as well as his own line, but as a photographer, a creative director, an artist — a visionary. Karl is a force not only in the world of fashion but in the world of modern culture. He is our own one-of-a-kind Renaissance man with a generosity that supports and inspires young talent, as well as a great sense of humor. Whenever we meet he is always incredibly warm and charming.” — Ralph Lauren


“Karl Lagerfeld is to me a representation of a true creative force. He has and is giving so much to the fashion industry not only through his designs but through all of the many artistries he masters.” — Miuccia Prada


“Working with Karl Lagerfeld has been and continues to be a great privilege for me. He is an extraordinary person as he combines great talent for fashion to an encyclopedic knowledge, which allows him to face everything he does with depth and a marked sense of humor at the same time. He is the real multitasker: fashion, photography, cinema…His incredible culture allows him to be continuously projected into the future and toward anything that does not exist yet fully representing the spirit of our days.” — Silvia Venturini Fendi


“A unique fashion force.” — John Galliano


“Beyond Karl Lagerfeld’s public image, which he knows how to wrap into a certain mystery, what sets him apart is his visionary creative genius, nurtured by an exceptionally intelligent and cultivated mind. Karl never stops pioneering new fields of creation in the fashion universe.” — François-Henri Pinault

“The bond between Karl Lagerfeld and fashion has lasted so long that it is almost impossible to think of one without the other. Without Lagerfeld, culture would not have pervaded fashion so deeply, and our taste for aesthetics would be different. Without Lagerfeld, Coco Chanel would not be a symbol of modernity as well as of history, and Fendi would not have its logo. I have a great deal of respect for his creative ability and his clarity of thought, which allow him to continually rework his insights into images and thoughts that are entirely modern.  And also into dazzling opinions, which value the intelligence of those who are listening.” — Giorgio Armani


“Karl’s creative voice, vision and rapid fire nonstop energy are always an inspiration to me. I have always been and will always be in complete awe when it comes to any- and everything Karl.” — Marc Jacobs


“For most, Karl largerfeld embodies the very essence of not simply French fashion, but fashion with a capital F. For me, he is also one of the most brilliant businessmen I know!” — Vera Wang


“There are few living designers that have influenced culture globally more than Karl Lagerfeld. He has been instrumental in bringing fashion to a worldwide audience through his genius creativity, devotion to his craft and indefatigable attention to detail. He’s a true trailblazer. We congratulate him on this honor.” — Carol Lim and Humberto Leon


“Combining his creative talent with his fashion culture and a unique experience working with state-of-the-art ateliers, Karl Lagerfeld became a genuine fashion master. I do believe that Karl is one the best representative of our European culture and values able to impact the opinion of the new generation.” — Sidney Toledano


“Karl is beyond any description: His global approach embracing art, design, photography, literature and technology allows him to set trends and points of view that impact the style and fashion desires of billions of customers around the world.” — Paolo de Cesare


“Karl is certainly the most intelligent designer of our times….His curiosity, sharp eye and opportunistic talent have made him a most relevant designer for more than half a century.” — Diane von Furstenberg


“Karl is a pioneer in what it means to be a designer today. He is symbolic of the designer figure who is able to interpret and give his vision to a brand, while always respecting its DNA. He has done it first for Fendi and at Chanel. His strength is his ability to push creative boundaries and go beyond all expectations. He represents the epitome of fantasy by creating unique worlds around each collection. Karl defines modernity in any era and is always able to capture the zeitgeist.” — Pierpaolo Piccioli


“Karl Lagerfeld is the most amazing talent in the world. He is obviously a true design genius in a class by himself but also a master of marketing. His work is his life. He is an inspiration to all.”  — Tommy Hilfiger


“Thanks to his unique sense of style, elegance and creativity, Karl contributed to revolutionize fashion and to empower women year after year over the last decades. His talent raised him at the pantheon of French art de vivre ambassadors and makes him a true master of our industry.” — Philippe Houzé


“Karl Lagerfeld paved the way for modern fashion as we know it today. He was the first designer to cross-pollinate with other fields, from music to beauty and architecture. He was the first to embrace collaborations in such a significant way and to do high and low to the utmost extremes, from haute couture to H&M. He has helped define our cultural zeitgeist and remained at the forefront of pop culture for four decades running. What other designer can you say that about? None.” — Jason Wu


“Karl’s work ethic is in itself an achievement. He holds no limits and raises the bar every season. I not only admire him as a creative but as an incredible scholar and maverick.” — Christopher Kane


“As I think about the luxury fashion customer today, the things that most resonate with them are connectivity, emotion and brilliant design. And those are the three things that immediately come to mind when I think of Karl.” — Marc Metrick


“He is a genius, a great artist, an extraordinary talent who works with his mind and his hand. It is inspiring to see how he envisions things, to see his perspectives.” — Delphine Arnault


“Karl is a genius. He is an artist, an innovator, he is fearless and a true visionary. He never stands still and no matter what he turns his many talents to, he excels. He is quite simply the Maestro and a dear friend.” — Donatella Versace


“Karl Lagerfeld is a designer who transcends generations, who has the most chameleon design talent, understands storytelling and beauty, poetry in fashion and the building of icons. A master of artistic skill with his pulse on the millennium. His eternal talent has no boundaries. There will only ever be one Karl Lagerfeld.” — Clare Waight Keller


“Karl is the pioneer of the creative directors for the luxury companies of today. He was the first to revive a sleeping Parisian couture house and turn it into a fashion blockbuster.” — Zac Posen


“Karl means to fashion more than just fashion — he means innovation, luxury, daring, fearlessness, real genius. He changed mentalities, he made what I think is relevant in luxury. He knows how to mix pop culture and luxury in a really good way. He has a sense of irony and obviously a talent for communication, for designing tailoring and making his shows unforgettable. I think what he is doing at Chanel is just an unforgettable moment and he knows how to be relevant no matter the generations. He is timeless, and this is what we are looking for in fashion. Trend is one thing, timelessness is more important. He has shown to all of us being a trend for a year is nice, but being timeless for life is genius.” — Olivier Rousteing


“I am so delighted that Karl is being honored. He is a constant inspiration, and this award is a true testament to his contribution to the fashion industry.” — Sarah Burton


“I have always respected and have been inspired by Karl’s deepest passion for fashion. There is no one like him and no other person who can do the same as him.” — Chitose Abe


“My own first encounter with Karl Lagerfeld was around 1994 as a student at the Royal College of Art. Then, as now, he was a legend in the industry that I was hoping to be a part of. Then, as now, his support and belief in the new, the young, the tomorrow, was exciting and energizing. Then, as now, he was kind, funny and unashamedly outspoken. Karl has a curiosity that seems endless, a creative spirit that is awe-inspiring and a mind-boggling output of extraordinary work. Behind those glasses, the powdered hair and the starched collars is the real deal, a true great, a master, whose influence and inspiration is beyond comparison.” — Christopher Bailey


“Karl Lagerfeld — what he does is mind-boggling. He’s taken Chanel’s point of view into this century and beyond. He’s doing it with Fendi. The respect that he has in collaboration with another designer’s name is extraordinary. The fact that he is a photographer. He never takes a rest. Karl Lagerfeld is beyond an icon. Beyond an inspiration. What is a true designer? Karl Lagerfeld.” — Donna Karan


“I see Karl’s dedication to his work and his inexhaustible will to learn as the things which have led him to become the icon that he is today. Photographer, artistic director, film director and designer, he never fails to bring new ideas that go beyond an innate sense of style. He is a true visionary of our times.” — Roksanda Ilincic


“I think Karl represents a lot of what is positive about fashion: He has always embraced change, new ideas and new technology, while never forgetting about the past.” — Joseph Altuzarra


“Karl Lagerfeld is a magician. He encourages young talent and is like a magical magnate pulling in inspiration and a coterie of inspirational people. Karl has always extended himself to follow his beliefs and back up his friendships. He did this with Antonio, the fabulous fashion artist and Anna Piaggi, fashion guru bar none. Very early in my fashion career he personally took me with my collection to several Parisian boutiques that he thought should carry my clothes. It is his hand that has nurtured and guided the house of Chanel to where it is today.” — Zandra Rhodes


“Karl was the first of all of us. The first person to go to an existing house that had slipped form its former status and revive it. I was in design school at Parsons in Paris in when Karl went to Chanel and I just remember it was incredible,” he says. “He was [ital] the first [ital] — way before me reviving Gucci, and Nicolas [at Balenciaga] and Marc at Vuitton and Phoebe [at Chloe]. Karl was [ital] the first [ital]. And he survived longer than all of us. Karl is still there. It is remarkable. He said some of the smartest, wisest things to me. I remember having with him in Paris when I was at Gucci. I remember saying, ‘All these great things are happening, my career’s doing well, the reviews, it’s all but I don’t feel anything.’ He said, ‘You will, when you look back at it.’And he was so right.” — Tom Ford


“For me, Karl Lagerfeld is the ultimate legend. He has always been a great source of inspiration. He loves music and art, which definitely interprets the spirit of each historic and social moment better than anything else, probably even more than I do. He is an incredible DJ — listening to the soundtracks of his shows over the years I discovered so many new groups. And he is a photographer, an artist, a writer…he can do everything. When I launched MSGM I was so obsessed with his house entirely furnished with Memphis and Ettore Sottsass pieces. And, another thing making me love him so much is that he had the courage to have porn actress Moana Pozzi wearing his creations at the Fendi presentation in 1993. It was so outrageous and brilliant. I think he is ultimately the fashion designer who best understands the contemporary times.” — Massimo Giorgetti


“I think that Karl Lagerfeld is one of the most gifted creative minds of the fashion world. He is an eclectic personality and has a creativity that is not influenced by established rules….This is definitely the reason why he is always a step ahead from the others. I agree with him when he says that fashion is much more than clothes and accessories, but it is a form of change and innovation, which is something he has always promoted embracing any novelties.” — Paula Cademartori


“The sheer power and chameleon-like versatility of Karl Lagerfeld’s work is legendary. I, like everyone else, have been following intently every phase of his career…from the campy Art Deco-style crêpe de chine frocks in Andy Warhol’s film, ‘L’Amour’ (and Antonio’s illustrations of them), to the artisanal mastery of fur at Fendi, to the romantic nostalgia of his Linda Evangelista ad campaigns for Chloé, to his commanding leadership at the House of Chanel — who can forget the images of Chanel denim on the Nineties super models?  He is the zenith gold-star fashion designer, the one we all look up to…and aspire to become.” — Anna Sui

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