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Designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died on February 19, 2019 at 85, had a career in fashion spanning more than 60 years, touching fashion houses including Chanel, Fendi and  Chloé. Lagerfeld was known not only for his prolific fashion output, but also for his repartee, bon mots and headline-making quotes.

Full of wisdom and sharp opinions, his observations were incisive and inspiring, sometimes biting and often newsmaking. Here’s a look back at the 11 of the most memorable Karl Lagerfeld quotes:

11. On Taking Risks 

“When I took over Chanel, everybody said to me, ‘Don’t touch it. It’s dead. There’s nothing you can do.’ And I said to myself, ‘I love that people think that. Now let’s see.’” — October 2017 (WWD Honors). See the complete interview here.

10. On Competition

Karl Lagerfeld closing his Chanel show in 1995. 

“Is there something healthier than competition? If not, you fall asleep and think success, and what you did, is granted. Nothing is granted in fashion, and this is what I love about fashion.” — January 2013 (WWD CEO Summit Leadership). See the complete interview here.

9. On Choupette

Karl Lagerfeld photographing his cat, Choupette. 

“She is like a kept woman. She has a strong personality. She has lunch and dinner with me on the table, with her own food. She doesn’t touch my food. She doesn’t want to eat on the floor. She sleeps under a pillow and she even knows how to use an iPad. She has two personal maids, for both night and day. She is beyond spoiled.” — June 2012 (“Karl Talks Chanel, Cats”). See the complete interview here.

8. On Social Media

Gigi Hadid, Joan Smalls and Karl Lagerfeld at V Magazine’s dinner honoring the Chanel designer in October 2017. 

“Those social networks, there’s something sad about them….It’s like a talkative mirror where people talk to themselves. And what I hate most in life is selfies.” — September 2014 (“Karl Lagerfeld Talks Media”). See the complete interview here.

7. On His Personal Style

Karl Lagerfeld 

“When I was four, I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday. I wanted my clothes prepared so I could wear anything I wanted at any time of the day. I was a clothes freak. And I was mad for dressing differently at least four times a day.” — September 1999 (“WWD Profiles”).

6. On His Customer

Cate Blanchett and Karl Lagerfeld at the Chanel and Vanity Fair France Dinner. 

“There was once a designer in Paris who said, ‘My dresses are only for intelligent women.’ She went out of business, so maybe there were only idiots. In fact, it was not clever for her to say that. I design for the people who like. There is no age group because age group is racism in a way, too.” — December 2005 (“Made in Manhattan”).

5. On His Achievements

Karl Lagerfeld closing his Chanel show in 1998. 

“I don’t believe in lifetime achievement. For me it is all about the next collection.” — June 2002 (CFDA Lifetime Achievement Award).

4. On Fashion

Cara Delevingne, Karl Lagerfeld and Lily-Rose Depp at the Chanel fall 2017 show. 

“To say that there is no fashion anymore is ridiculous. The fashion of no-fashion is still fashion. And fashion is a train that waits for nobody. Get on it, or it’s gone.” — November 1991 (“King Karl”).

3. On Researching 

Karl Lagerfeld in 1991. 

“I’m very curious. I read every magazine, I have spies all over the place, I know everything. Very few people are as informed as I am.” — October 2017 (WWD Honors). See the complete interview here.

2. On Writing a Memoir

Karl Lagerfeld in 1964. 

“No memoirs. I have nothing to say, and what I could say, I cannot say.” — January 2013 (WWD CEO Summit Leadership). See the complete interview here.

1. On His Design Process

Lily-Rose Depp and Karl Lagerfeld at the Chanel couture spring 2017 show. 

“I design like I breathe. You don’t ask to breathe. It just happens.” — April 1983 (“Karl Lagerfeld: The Banker’s Holiday”)


Read more about Karl Lagerfeld:

Chanel Couture Spring 2019

Kristen Stewart Raves About Chanel’s Bathing Suit Bride

Lagerfeld Absent from Chanel Couture Shows


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