Remembering a controversial figure: Commentary

On Feb. 19, the fashion community lost one of its most prolific and notorious designers. 

Karl Lagerfeld, renowned designer for fashion houses Chanel and Fendi, passed in Paris at the age of 85. 

Over decades he defined his iconic black glasses and white pony tale as a true staple in the world of fashion, working alongside legends such as Yves St. Laurent and Pierre Balmain throughout his lengthy resume. 

Beloved by many and despised by some, he led a controversial but undeniably formative career that had an incredible impact on fashion as we know it today.

In a quest to bring beauty into the world, Lagerfeld sparked outrage and controversy at many points throughout his life. 

Whether it be the integration of a Koran quote into a low cut dress on the runway that infuriated the Muslim community, or his constant battle with the body positivity movement on the topic of obesity and what is considered ‘beautiful’, there is no doubt that opinions of him ranged wildly.

“Vanity is the healthiest thing in life,” said Lagerfeld, summing up the stemming of backlash towards his ideology of what human beauty is. 

Criticizing the outspoken models, both male and female, of the ‘#MeToo’ movement and promoting weight loss garnered attention from many celebrities and the media in his frequent Twitter comments. 

“A ruthless, fat-phobic misogynist shouldn’t be posted all over the internet as a saint gone-too-soon,” actress Jameela Jamil took to twitter shortly after his death saying, “Talented for sure, but not the best person.”

Having been brought on by the Italian fashion house Fendi to reinvent their fur line of products in 1967, Lagerfeld had been no stranger to this scrutiny and outrage for many years. 

With quote after quote that seem to clash so strongly against our increasingly politically correct culture.

However Lagerfeld’s legacy is simply too vast to be boiled down to a tyrade of Twitter outrage. 

With an estimated revenue of over $4 billion a year, the fashion house Chanel of which he was the creative director is regarded as a giant of creativity and innovation that has largely been attributed to him. 

His incredible work ethic showed him working on multiple new lines for the high camp brand into his 80s, fueled by his obsession with never being bored.

“More than anyone I know, he represents the soul of fashion: restless, forward-looking and voraciously attentive to our changing culture,” Anna Wintour editor of American Vogue was quoted as saying in 2015 when she presented Lagerfeld the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Achievement Awards. 

By all accounts, Lagerfeld was one of the hardest working individuals in the industry, constantly redefining the image of any brands he touched and swooping up awards and acclaim as he went.

The German born designer from Hamburg learned many languages, directed films, had his political cartoons published in news papers and even dabbled briefly in architectural design and photography. 

Many of these interests stem back to his childhood which he was tremendously vocal about, telling stories of his early choice to wear suits and ties as a young boy and his mothers inclination to push him to be unapologetically eccentric and ambitious.

His legacy will most certainly be remembered, for what reason is up to the individual, but it is hard to deny that Lagerfeld lived his life to the fullest with seemingly little regret and pursuing his truest passions.