How many other people do you know with teddy bear replicas of themselves? Karl Lagerfeld is not only the creative force behind some of the top names such as Chanel. He is constantly reinventing with each collection he creates – something that gets harder, not easier, with time. What he did for Chanel with tweed is incredible, his explorations in sable fur were stunning and his creations, for example that signature unfinished trim is endlessly copied and replicated. Sometimes you wonder how can someone reinvent himself season after season and still good at it. Here's a few lessons.
The man’s an art-making machine and his public persona is unequivocally all about making women look radiant. Working quickly and creatively, he enjoys the exploration of art as much as he does the execution. Last year, after a TV appearance with Lady Gaga that ended in an impromptu photo session, the king of couture sent the queen of pop culture a signature Chanel bag featuring portraits of the two of them embellished with Crayola-color.
Growing up in Hamburg, Germany, Lagerfeld learned to speak French, English, and Italian as well as his native German language fluently. At 14, he moved to the fashion mecca of Paris, and by 17, he confirmed his unparalleled talent by winning first prize in a sketch contest organized by the International Wool Secretariat. In 1983, Lagerfield became the art director for Chanel, and launched his debut clothing line, Karl Lagerfeld. With the assistance of Gilles du Four, his Chanel ready-to-wear collection was an instant hit. At the time, Chanel was losing steam, failing to attract young customers with their tired line. They needed a glamorous re-haul,—nothing short of a brand reinvention.
Lagerfeld’s magic touch transformed the conservative fashion line into a timeless label with contemporary style, while preserving all the glamour that Coco infused in her classic pieces. In the studio, Largerfeld is an artistic powerhouse and hands-on with every step of the design process. It’s no wonder that the press refers to him as Kaiser Lagerfeld.
He does everything from designing to shooting the fashion ads and commercial campaigns. In the fashion industry, it’s not just the clothes that go out of fashion with every season. Hyper-competitive designers are always trying to claw their way into the business, and with little to no guarantee of customer loyalty, it’s harder to stay ‘in style’ than get your foot in the door. So how does someone like Lagerfeld reinvent himself every season for over 50 years? Here are four lessons that you can apply in your work:
Lesson One: ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR INSTINCTS “I’m not a marketing person. I don’t ask myself questions. I go by instinct. Be politically correct, but please don’t bother other people with conversation about being politically correct, because that’s the end of everything. You want to create boredom? Be politically correct in your conversation.”
Lesson Two: CREATIVITY CAN BE AN UNLIMITED MACHINE “People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.”
Lesson Three: DON’T OVER ANALYSE “I never analyze my collections. I do eight collections for Chanel each year — they overlap. Sometimes I work on two collections at the same time. But I can separate my mind, I’m very organized. In fact, I’m a computer. Also because I don’t use cell phones and computers. My computer is my brain.”
Lesson Four: INVENTION IS LIVING “I like to reinvent myself — it’s part of my job.”