Karl Lagerfeld may be fashion’s most fascinating subject. He is certainly one of its most kinetic. In 2010, Lagerfeld became a commander of the French Legion of Honor, christened Chanel’s renovated, reopened store in New York’s SoHo with a huge party, and staged a gallery exhibition of his photography at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie.
Lagerfeld also took to a considerable dip into the world of masstige, in November signing on for a one-time capsule collaboration with Macy’s to be sold in 250 stores as well as online. Earlier, in announcing that he would no longer show his Karl Lagerfeld collection on the runway, he explained his interest in working in a different way.
“I can’t compete with Chanel,” Lagerfeld told WWD. “I don’t want to be the poor child of myself.”
But the yen to dress the masses aside, Lagerfeld’s biggest news came in October, when his collection for Chanel spring 2011 emerged as the show of the season. Magnificent in concept, scale and most importantly, in chic, it made for one of those rare fashion moments that take on mythic resonance with time.
Inspired by the film “Last Year at Marienbad,” for his set Lagerfeld reimagined the classical French garden — complete with three grand fountains — with a surrealist slant, all in black, gray and white stone and marble, and enlisted an 80-piece orchestra to provide the soundtrack. He then sent out an extraordinary parade of clothes, from a textured sweater over jeans to exquisite eveningwear, throughout lavishing the clothes with feathers, froth, florals and couture-worthy embroideries.
The whole thing reflected a concise, long-held Lagerfeld belief, first expressed to WWD as he readied his debut Chanel couture collection in 1983: “I don’t like anything small.”