When Karl Lagerfeld ignited designer collaborations and the “masstige” phenomenon in 2004 with his one-off collection for H&M, he had a secret collaborator with a silhouette as well-known and emphatic as his own: Carine Roitfeld.
Now he has invited the fashion editor and stylist — known for her pencil skirts, taut sweaters and killer heels — to become a collaborator at his signature fashion house, WWD has learned.
Their new partnership is to kick off in September with The Edit by Carine Roitfeld, her selection of “essential pieces” from the designer’s fall 2019 collection.
“The collaboration will further evolve with additional projects to be announced later this year,” the Lagerfeld house said, divulging the development exclusively to WWD and calling Roitfeld an “integral contributor to the Karl Lagerfeld brand.”
Since repositioning his signature fashion house in the masstige zone in 2010, the brand has expanded rapidly to more than 100 freestanding stores worldwide, plus online sales in 96 countries.
A pioneer in freewheeling collaborations throughout his long fashion career, Lagerfeld only recently began inviting outside contributors to his brand. Most recently, Cindy Crawford’s 16-year-old daughter and doppelgänger Kaia Gerber signed a capsule collection for fall 2018 retailing. Last year, Lagerfeld also did a capsule collection with Sébastien Jondeau, his longtime personal assistant and bodyguard.
In Roitfeld, Lagerfeld has found a kindred spirit with decisive tastes and a penchant for the graphic style he personifies, hinged on sharp tailoring and striking accessories.
“She knows what she wants; she has a vision and she states her vision,” Lagerfeld said in a statement. “She is actually what she seems to be; she matches her image, she fits in her universe, and she is a perfect match for KL.”
Roitfeld lauded Lagerfeld as “one of the smartest, most inventive and innovative people I have ever known.”
And one possessed of impeccable, Old World politesse. “After all these years, Karl never calls me Carine — always Madame Roitfeld,” she marveled. “Our collaborations are always such a pleasure, and continue to be inspiring and exciting each and every time.”
Besides the H&M collaboration, divulged only now, Lagerfeld and Roitfeld have worked on various photography and styling projects over the years.
One of the most visible was “The Little Black Jacket: Chanel’s Classic Revisited,” a book they coauthored and promoted with a tour of exhibitions and events that stretched across 2012 and 2013 and more than a dozen cities, from New York and Milan to Tokyo and Beijing. Published by Steidl, the black-and-white tome featured a galaxy of famous people wearing Chanel’s signature, cardigan-style tweed number, including Claudia Schiffer, Uma Thurman, Kanye West, Tilda Swinton, Yoko Ono and Sarah Jessica Parker.
The Edit by Carine Roitfeld, with a focus on “versatile styles with mix-and-match appeal,” is to debut this fall at Karl Lagerfeld stores, at karl.com and with select wholesale partners.
Roitfeld is the founder and director of her namesake magazines, CR Fashion Book and CR Men, and a creative content firm dubbed CR Studio. She is also the global fashion director for Harper’s Bazaar.
One of France’s most prominent stylists and the woman behind Tom Ford’s steamiest days at Gucci, Roitfeld segued into magazine editing full time in 2001 when she was tapped to helm French Vogue. Prior to that, she spent years styling shoots for various titles, and campaigns for brands including Yves Saint Laurent, Calvin Klein, Chanel and Tom Ford. She launched CR Fashion Book in 2012.
Roitfeld poured all of her personal style preferences and signifiers — double-breasted cuts for coats; muted colors; liquid fabrics — into an eponymous collection she did for Japanese fashion chain Uniqlo in 2015.
“There’s nothing revolutionary here. I’m not a fashion designer. I’m incapable of doing that,” she told WWD at the time. “But I think the collection is easy. It’s an attitude, and you can easily see me in these clothes.”
Lagerfeld’s signature collection has a contemporary rock-chic edge — in line with Roitfeld’s floppy hair and raccoon eye makeup — plus an autobiographical touch. Handbags feature his handwriting as hardware, while many items exalt cartoon depictions of Choupette, his pet cat. The product range currently spans clothing for women, men and children, plus leather goods, shoes, perfumes, candles and fashion jewelry.
The affordable luxury label has been growing at a double-digit clip, which its chief executive officer Pier Paolo Righi attributed in an interview last year to the fact that Lagerfeld “just genuinely lives and works the DNA and the attributes of the brand, and I think the consumer realizes that very well, and that has made it very successful in recent years.”
In addition to heading his own label, Lagerfeld is creative director of Chanel and the fur and ready-to-wear designer at Fendi.