A Look at Karl Lagerfeld's Most Iconic Designs
25 February 2019

A Look at Karl Lagerfeld’s Most Iconic Designs

Last week, we lost yet another fashion great: Karl Lagerfeld. For many of us, this came rather unexpectedly. Though in his 80s, with his relentless amount of energy, dedication, drive, and ideas, to design very different collections for not just 1 House, but 3 – Fendi, Chanel and his own namesake label, Karl Lagerfeld – he seemed invincible to us all and his talent, was unparalleled. Today, we take a look back at his creative genius, by highlighting some of his most memorable designs and silhouettes, for the fashion houses he’s worked for, past and present; his “greatest hits”, if you will.

The Chloé Years: The “Shower Dress”

Chloe Shower Dress by Karl Lagerfeld

Before Fendi and Chanel, Karl served as Creative Director at Chloé between 1964 and 1983. Here, he was responsible for that romantic bohemian aesthetic, that has become so deeply ingrained in Chloé’s DNA until this day. Perhaps, you can say that Karl, during his tenure, helped Chloé find, and shape, its brand identity. If this wasn’t enough, he also designed the some of the most iconic pieces to date at Chloé, including the Shower Dress, which you’d definitely see this dress at any Chloé exhibit or retrospective.

The Chanel Years: The Little Black Jacket

Chanel Little Black Jacket Tilda Swinton

Though The Little Black Jacket was originally designed by founder Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel herself, it was Karl who made sure it stayed relevant and timeless, instead of dowdy and matronly. What was initially loose-fitted black cardigan, became a collarless, boxy tweed jacket, which we now recognise of as the quintessential Chanel “must-have” which women like Jackie Kennedy, frequently paired with a matching tweed skirt. But, Karl was the one who was responsible for injecting youth into it, and widened its appeal, to reach a much younger market. The secret? Well, it all came down to the way he styled these Little Black Jackets on the runway by pairing them with denim, leather pants, or even accessorised with chunky jewellery. It became so emblematic that there was even a global travelling exhibit dedicated to the Little Black Jacket, as well as a tome of its own in which fashion industry peeps like Alexander Wang, Ines de la Fressange, Joan Smalls, and celebrities such as Kanye West, were photographed wearing the iconic wardrobe staple.


The Chanel Years: Chanel Flap and Boy Chanel

Chanel Black Flap Lambskin

Chanel’s Flap Bag was actually Karl’s variation of the Coco’s original 2.55 bag (now referred to as the Reissue). While the original sported the rectangular turncock closure known as the Mademoiselle lock, Karl replaced this with the interlocking C clasp in the 1980s, as a tribute to the founder. The Flap Bag is one of the the most highly covetable bags today, an investment piece that withstands the test of time. (Read this for a more detailed look at how you can differentiate between the Flap and the 2.55)

Chanel Boy Bag Black Quilted Small
Image via Getty

The Boy Chanel, or, more commonly known as the “Boy Bag”, was a Karl invention. Named after Boy Capel, Mademoiselle Chanel’s “great love”, the Boy appeals to one who prefers something a little edgier, thanks to the more contemporary design, and chunky chain hardware. Introduced in 2011, it quickly rose to the ranks of one of Chanel’s classics, and is still highly sought after until this day.

The Fendi Years: Logomania

Fendi x Net-a-Porter FF Capsule Collection SS18

Though Fendi‘s handbags and leather goods are designed by Silvia Venturini Fendi (Karl was assigned to the role of creating the ready-to-wear), it was Karl who created the House’s iconic FF logo, which also signifies “Fendi Forever” and “Fun Fur”. This proved to be a huge hit in an era of “Logomania” in the 1990s, and while it continued to be part of Fendi’s collections  we saw fewer of these FF motif pieces, as they were produced on a smaller scale …. until the recent revival of Logomania, in the last 2 years or so. The classic tobacco and brown FF motif (and its other colour variations) is currently now front and centre, and Fendi’s recent “FENDIMANIA” Capsule Collection . Head into the Fendi boutique and you’d see tons of logo emblazoned bags taking centerstage.

And there all of the most emblematic creations, by the fashion powerhouse with immense creative vision, all summed right here.