At the time, he was maintaining a design contract with Japanese firm Isetan to create collections for both men and women through 30 licenses, had a lingerie line in the U.S. produced by Eve Stillmann, was designing shoes for Charles Jourdan and sweaters for Ballantyne, and worked with Trevira as a fashion adviser.
In 2002, Karl Lagerfeld asked Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel, to collaborate with him on a special denim collection for the Lagerfeld Gallery. The collection, Lagerfeld Gallery by Diesel, was co-designed by Lagerfeld and then developed by Diesel’s creative team, under the supervision of Rosso. It consisted of five pieces that were presented during the designer’s catwalk shows during Paris Fashion Week and then sold in highly limited editions at the Lagerfeld Galleries in Paris and Monaco and at the Diesel Denim Galleries in New York and Tokyo. During the first week of sales in New York, more than 90% of the trousers were sold out, even though prices ranged from $240 to $1,840. In a statement after the show in Paris, Rosso said: “I am honored to have met this fashion icon of our time. Karl represents creativity, tradition and challenge, and the fact that he thought of Diesel for this collaboration is a great gift and acknowledgement of our reputation as the prêt-à-porter of casual wear.”
Lagerfeld designed the costumes for the Carmen sequences in the 2002 film Callas Forever; in 2004, some outfits for singer Madonna for her Re-Invention tour, and recently outfits for Kylie Minogue’s Showgirl tour. Lagerfeld collaborated with H&M, which, on 12 November 2004, offered a limited range of Lagerfeld clothes for men and women, in certain outlets. Only two days after having supplied its outlets, H&M announced that almost all the clothes were sold out. However, Lagerfeld has expressed some fear that working with lower-end brands will taint his image.
Lagerfeld is also a photographer. He produced Visionaire 23: The Emperor’s New Clothes, a series of nude pictures of models and celebrities. He also personally photographed Mariah Carey for the cover of V magazine in 2005. In addition to his editorial work for Harper’s Bazaar, Numéro, and Russian and German editions of Vogue, Lagerfeld photographs advertising campaigns for the houses under his direction—Chanel, Fendi, and his eponymous line.
In the 1980s, Hans Christian Andersen tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was published with drawings by Lagerfeld.
The designer was also the subject of French reality-TV series “Signé Chanel” in 2005. It covered the creation of his fall/winter 2004–2005 Chanel couture collection and aired on Sundance Channel in the United States during the fall of 2006.
He has also supported and encouraged the work of up-and-coming designers including Philip Colbert of Rodnik.
On 18 December 2006, Lagerfeld announced the launch of a new collection for men and women dubbed K Karl Lagerfeld, which included fitted T-shirts and a wide range of jeans.
Lagerfeld has signed a deal with Dubai Infinity Holdings (DIH); an investments enterprise that focuses on first-of-its-kind projects in non-conventional growth sectors, in line with its mandate to fulfill and meet market needs. Lagerfeld is to design limited edition homes on Isla Moda, the world’s first dedicated fashion island, The World. This is a collaboration between Dubai Infinity Holdings and Lagerfeld across the Cooperative Council of Arab States and India.
Lagerfeld is the host of fictional radio station K109—The Studio in videogame Grand Theft Auto IV.
In 2008, he created a teddy bear in his likeness produced by Steiff in an edition of 2,500 that sold for $1,500. and has been immortalized in many forms, which include pins, shirts, dolls, and more. In 2009, Tra Tutti began selling Karl Lagermouse and Karl Lagerfelt, which are mini-Lagerfelds in the forms of mice and finger puppets, respectively.
On 10 September 2010, the Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology presented Lagerfeld with an award created for him, The Couture Council Fashion Visionary Award, at a benefit luncheon at Avery Fisher Hall, New York.
On 10 November 2010, Lagerfeld and Swedish crystal manufacturer Orrefors announced a collaboration to design a crystal art collection. The first collection was launched in spring 2011, called Orrefors by Karl Lagerfeld.
Lagerfeld’s apartment in Paris was published in the French issue of Architectural Digest in May 2012. He also revealed his vast collection of Suzanne Belperron’s pins and brooches and used the color of one of her blue chalcedony rings as the starting point for the Chanel spring/summer 2012 collection.
In 2013, he directed the short film Once Upon a Time… in the Cité du Cinéma, Saint-Denis, by Luc Besson, featuring Keira Knightley in the role of Coco Chanel and Clotilde Hesme as her aunt Adrienne Chanel.
In 2014, an auction house in Florida announced that many of Lagerfeld’s early sketches for the House of Tiziani in Rome would be sold.
In 1993, he caused U.S. Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour to walk out of his Milan Fashion Week runway show, when he employed strippers and adult-film star Moana Pozzi to model his black-and-white collection for Fendi.
There was much controversy from Lagerfeld’s use of a verse from the Qur’an in his spring 1994 couture collection for Chanel, despite apologies from the designer and the fashion house. The controversy erupted after the 1994 couture show in Paris, when the Indonesian Muslim Scholars Council in Jakarta called for a boycott of Chanel and threatened to file formal protests with the government of Mr. Lagerfeld’s homeland, Germany. The designer apologized, explaining that he had taken the design from a book about the Taj Mahal, thinking the words came from a love poem.
Lagerfeld was the target of a pieing by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in 2001 at a fashion premiere at Lincoln Center in New York City. The tofu pies hurled by animal rights activists in protest of his use of fur within his collections, however went astray and hit Calvin Klein. A PETA spokesperson described the hit on Klein as “friendly fire,” calling Klein, who doesn’t use fur, “a great friend to the animals” and Lagerfeld a “designer dinosaur,” who continues to use fur in his collections.
Lagerfeld is attempting to defend the fur industry and the use of fur in fashion. He himself doesn’t wear fur and hardly eats meat. In a BBC interview in 2009, he claimed that hunters “make a living having learnt nothing else than hunting, killing those beasts who would kill us if they could” and maintained: “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and clothes and even handbags, the discussion of fur is childish.” Spokespersons for PETA called Lagerfeld “a fashion dinosaur who is as out of step as his furs are out of style.” and “particularly delusional with his kill-or-be-killed mentality. When was the last time a person’s life was threatened by a mink or rabbit?”
In 2010, PETA cites Lagerfeld, who used fake fur in his 2010 Chanel collection, on its website as saying: “It’s the triumph of fake fur… because fake fur changed so much and became so great now that you can hardly see a difference.”
Lagerfeld in 2009 joined critics of supermodel Heidi Klum. After German designer Wolfgang Joop called Klum, who had posed naked on the cover of the German edition of GQ magazine, as being “no runway model. She is simply too heavy and has too big a bust.” Lagerfeld retorted that neither he nor Claudia Schiffer knew Klum as she has never worked in Paris and is insignificant in the world of high fashion, being “more bling bling and glamorous than current fashion.”
Lagerfeld created an international furore on 9 February 2012, when he called the singer Adele “a little too fat.”This caused instant fury throughout the United Kingdom, and Lagerfeld responded with a statement of apology. Adele hit back by saying she is like the majority of women, and she is very proud of that fact. Lagerfeld later caused another controversy, on 31 July 2012, when he criticized Pippa Middleton, sister of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for her looks. The comment was made when Lagerfeld was praising Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for her “romantic beauty” before adding: “I don’t like the sister’s face. She should only show her back.”
When Lagerfeld lost 42 kg (about 92.6 lbs.) in 13 months in 2001, he explained: “I suddenly wanted to dress differently, to wear clothes designed by Hedi Slimane…. But these fashions, modeled by very, very slim boys—and not men my age—required me to lose at least 40kg. It took me exactly 13 months.” The diet was created specially for Lagerfeld by Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret, which led to a book called The Karl Lagerfeld Diet, which he promoted on Larry King Live and other TV shows.
Some quotes from his book “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet:
“Dieting is the only game where you win when you lose”
“Fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight”
“Don’t talk about it too much. One’s diet is as boring a subject as one’s illness.”
“When you are on a diet, one needs to stay at home as much as possible.”
Lagerfeld owns a mansion in Paris and a Persian cat named Choupette, which, on 1 June 2013, he indicated he would marry, were it legal.
On our next page see what a day in the life of Karl Lagerfeld is like