Kaiser Karl and the Catwalking

Often called Kaiser* Karl, Karl Lagerfeld inspired many young designers, dazzled front rows and bewitched the entire world. We feel honoured and privileged to have had his creations in the in our most recent fashion exhibition, Catwalking: Fashion through the Lens of Chris Moore

Blue dress by Lagerfeld during the his period at Chloe, Catwalking gallery shot

Today, 19th of February 2019, marks a sad day in the fashion and art industry through the loss of such a great talent that was Karl Lagerfeld. But we want to celebrate the amazing life of Karl Lagerfeld and explore the four different garments designed by him, that we had the privilege to host in our Catwalking exhibition.

The ’70s

Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld, Ready to wear, 1976, image by fashion photographer Chris Moore

Karl Lagerfeld was designing for Chloé since 1963 and if the ’60s were the years of breaking down the rigorous doors of the haute couture, the ’70’s were about enjoyment, fun on the runway and ready-to-wear boom. And Kaiser Karl was right at the front of this with names like YSL, Cardin or Dior. Fashion photographer and inspiration of the Catwalking exhibition, Chris Moore, remembers in his book Catwalking that Lagerfeld’s garments were highly sought and very expensive.

Chloé by Karl Lagerfeld, Ready to wear, 1976, in the Catwalking exhibition

We could say that to this day the ready-to-wear Karl Lagerfeld are highly desired fashion items that a lot of people adore.


The ’80’s

The 1980s represented a great deal of change for Karl Lagerfeld. He ended his post at the front of Chloé with whimsical shows, displaying memorable runways that both delighted but also raised eyebrows amongst critics. Dresses with delicately embroidered patterns where walking on the runway but also in true Lagerfeld style, they displayed a lot of humour.


Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé, ready-to-wear, Spring-Summer, 1983 also known as the ‘Bath Dress’. First image is the runway photograph by Chris Moore.


After many years of designing for Chloé (although his love for the brand sees him going back and forth in the future), he joins one of the most prestigious fashion houses in the world, Chanel.

Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, Autumn/Winter 1984 Houte Couture, photograph by Chris Moore

In a later interview for British Vogue, Lagerfeld mentioned “I have a lifelong contract and I am enchanted,” which referred partly to designing for the Chanel house. He did not hesitated to put his mark on the Chanel brand, whilst still be in-keeping with the in house symbols – tweed, pearls, camellias – but definitely planning and designing for the future.

“Regarding Gabrielle Chanel, he said, ‘My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done. The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.'”


And we think Coco Chanel would’ve been extremely proud.

Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld in the Catwalking display
Fashion Historian Amber Butchart admiring the Chanel dress with Catwalking curator, Joanna Hashagen

Karl Lagerfeld’s career at Chanel was only going to flourish and grow. Whilst still keeping the beautiful in house style, Kaiser Karl took Chanel to new, contemporary heights.


The twenty teens

Chanel by Karl Lagerfeld, Autumn/Winter 2013 Ready-to-wear

The most contemporary garment by Karl in the Catwalking exhibition was the pink tweed skirt suit from the Autumn/Winter 2013 ready-to-wear Chanel collection, complete with accessories: fur hat, leather clutch bag, metal and tweed jewellery, leather boots and gaiters. An exquisite ready-to-wear piece fit for royalty or… Instagram.

Today saw the loss of a fashion genius, that is going to be missed by many from the industry and outside of it. We feel lucky and honoured to have had Karl Lagerfeld’s creations in our Catwalking exhibition, together with so many amazing names.

May his soul continue to be brilliantly creative among names he ruled with in life.

*Kaiser – Emperor

One thought on “Kaiser Karl and the Catwalking

  1. Yes as a French person, I do like the work of Karl Lagerfeld, my sister was a member of his staff and I would have worn her uniform with pride! His collections very chic with a je ne sais quoi which made them a unique style. And yes Coco Chanel would have been proud.
    A great thank you to Johanna to enlight his achievement.

    Liked by 1 person

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