We remember Chanel + Fendi creative director Karl Lagerfeld with our Autumn 2016 issue interview.
Visionary Karl Lagerfeld has reportedly passed away in Paris, age 85. Arguably one of the most iconic fashion figures of our time, the German designer – whose career spanned seven decades – fronted Chanel and Fendi as creative director, as well as his own namesake label.
We remember the icon with our interview, taken from Wonderland’s Autumn 2016 fashion issue. Read below…
Wonderland’s extended family quiz style bard and FENDI’s all-powerful futurist, Karl Lagerfeld.
Scanning adoringly through FENDI’s AW16 collection, Karl’s stamp is clear: swimming in undulating curves and pairing pastels with an earthy palette, it’s an expert’s manipulation of modern tastes and classic forms. Incomparable and ever-so-slightly intimidating, when Wonderland was offered the chance to interview FENDI frontman Karl Lagerfeld, we called upon our favourite fashion friends to help. Here, the Wonderland team and our closest contributors quizzed Karl on his inspirations (by which he responded with glittering pearls of wisdom) and whether we can get a space on the guest list for our Bag Bugs.
Karl, season after season, collection after collection, you tap into your never-ending creative whirlpool of ideas. Is there a decade you either consciously or subconsciously revisit? – Princess Julia
I don’t think about it. I live for today, tomorrow, and maybe after tomorrow. I like to change as well, while the world is changing. With fashion you have to. That’s what fashion is about! Also, never-ending inspiration is the most important thing. One thing always inspires the next. Creativity with no vision, or developed with people who have no talent to build something, it’s worthless. I am happy to say that I work with great people who can understand and realise my ideas. It is a mix of possibility of ideas and the possibility to make them modern, right, beautiful — and that’s it.
You once said: “If someone asks me what fashion is, I don’t know, but 30 years later it all becomes clear”. Which trends from the last three decades has that mantra become most true about? – Jack Mills
There are no rules, trends come and go. Fashion is about the “moment”, not about museum exhibits. The best thing that can happen to a dress is that it gets worn.
In the past, you’ve said FENDI was “grunge before grunge was invented”. Which subcultures or youth culture movements are you most fond of? – Lily Walker
I like very much the Futurist movement, in particular Giacomo Balla and Giorgio De Chirico. They were the first modernists, just like FENDI.
Do FENDI fur charms with faces count as +1 at a party? Tea Hacic-Vlahovic
There is The Karlito, which is a kind of fur monster inspired by me. I’m also one with a large collar, with a kind of black tie!
Is there any advice you wish you’d had when you were starting out? – David Uzochukwu
What I can say today is that you always have to think that you can do better, that you have to make an effort. I’m never completely satisfied with what I do. I always think about the next and want to do more, because I think I can do better and improve. That’s how I think about myself.
In the age of the influencer, what is the modern role of a muse? Do you seek out muses with their digital footprint in mind? How do you ensure you are not just fetishising their social media reach? – Hynam Kendall
It is very difficult to identify a specific woman. Our job is to propose collections hoping that many women will appreciate what we do. Saying “it’s for this kind of woman and not for the other”, it’s a too sharp remark.
Your association with FENDI stretches back far further than your work at Chanel. What’s the allure of the brand for you? Do you think the sensibilities of the Italian woman differ from that of the French? – Richard Mortimer
FENDI is the unique craftsmanship of the best Italian artisans. The secret is also that this Maison is rooted in Italy from the first day of its creation, also after the acquisition from LVMH group. That gives to the brand a unique international dimension and the possibility to be modern and avant-garde at the same time. It gained a global dimension with a strong Italian and rRman unique backbone.
You speak so many languages, which do you think in? Do you think it has an effect on the way your work? – Kat Jenkins
I don’t think about it, I adapt easily. I have many personalities.
You’ve spoken about being inspired by the shapes in rice fields to create new methods of working with fur. Where was the most unexpected place you found inspiration for the brand’s AW16 collection? – Huw Gwyther
I like experimenting on materials, mixing things that are not supposed to go together. I am against nothing. I like things to be what they don’t at first seem. For instance, the FENDI fall/winter 2016-17 collection was a beautiful mix of materials, like fur that looked like velvet or silk jacquard that looked like leather. Also, the inspiration — we mixed Japanese botanical flowers with gravitational waves… And they looked so modern!
In the 90s, you would show 200 look collections for FENDI. The collections are still huge today, but how was the designing and creating process back then without the instancy of communication we have today? – Matthew Josephs
It’s easy to work with me in terms of fashion, because I sketch in a way that [allows people to] do the dresses without me coming in for a fitting. I have a vision, I put it on paper and the others translate it on toiles for RTW or fur that are perfect. But my sketches always come with a technical explanation that show the atelier what I want. Today I can send my designs directly from my iPhone. Back when I started there was no fax and it would take 3 weeks to ship a package in the mail!