Karl Lagerfeld may have died a year ago, but his legacy in fashion and styling still lingers. He can also be regarded as the fashion world’s Midas for every brand he touched turned gold.
From transforming the Fendi label to reviving Chanel, Karl’s magic touch turned boring brands into sartorial challengers. His visions revolutionized and redefined how we see fashion now – in short, he was nothing short of a genius.
But how did Karl get into the top and managed to amass around $200 million before he died?
Before he became the fearless and outspoken icon that many fanatics admire, Karl started his love affair with clothes at a young age. When he was just a boy, he used to cut out fashion magazines and lessoned his classmates about their outfits.
Lucky for him, Karl came from a wealthy family who valued art and knowledge, so when his parents saw his interest in art and fashion, they supported him.
He was greatly inspired by French art and dreamed that he would live in Paris, which he eventually did at just 14 with the support of his parents. Karl finished his secondary schooling there at Lycee Montaigne.
His first break in fashion came in 1955 when he ranked first in a coat designing competition. At the time, he befriended Yves Saint Laurent, who won the dress category. After this, he became an assistant to Pierre Balmain, who later became his mentor.
After three years of working for Balmain, Karl became an art director for Jean Patou. Six years later, he left Paris to study art history and work for different brands as a freelancer, but remained with Chloe for a long time.
His next fashion stint was with Fendi – trivia: Karl inspired the double-F logo that became the brand’s signature pattern. With the Italian brand, the celebrated designer experimented with fur, upping its game in high fashion.
Aside from Fendi, another brand that became synonymous with Karl is Chanel. Before his arrival at the French luxury house, other designers warned him that working with the brand will backtrack his career.
However, the designer saw this as a challenge, so he did his best to revamp the look of the once dying company. He changed the ladylike aesthetic of Chanel by trying out different fabrics and materials like tweeds and chains while still incorporating the brand’s signature.
Karl also launched his eponymous brand in 1984, which he then sold to Tommy Hilfiger in 2005.
With Karl’s long list of fashion credits, it’s safe to say that he lived a glamorous life. He had houses all over France, the US, and his hometown in Hamburg.
He sold most of his real estate properties, including the Villa Jako in his hometown that hit the market in 2018. This three-bedroom mansion was named after his late love, Jacques de Bascher, and features a library, indoor swimming pool, and decorated ceilings.
Among all his possessions, one that he could not let go of is his beloved Birman cat named Choupette. In an interview prior to his death, Karl said that his pet is an heiress to his fortune.