Capital: € 400 million
Age: 85
Born: 10.09.1933
Died: February 19, 2019
Country of origin: Germany
Source of wealth: Entrepreneurs
Last updated: 2022

Short introduction

Karl Lagerfeld was one of the best-known German fashion designers and is considered an icon of the fashion world. His trademarks were his white ponytail hair, black sunglasses and a white shirt with a high collar.

Lagerfeld’s name is particularly associated with the fashion company Chanel, but his artistic work and entrepreneurship went far beyond the French fashion label.

Early life

There are contradicting statements about his date of birth. As stated in a birth announcement, Lagerfeld was born on June 10, 1933 in Hamburg. However, he circulated different information about his date of birth, according to which he would have been a few years younger.

Lagerfeld grew up with his three-year-old sister Christel and a paternal half-sister in wealthy circumstances. His father, Otto Lagerfeld, owned the Glücksklee condensed milk factory, which had made him a wealthy Hamburg citizen.

In the Hanseatic city, the family lived in a villa on the Blankeneser Elbhangufer, where young Karl spent some of his childhood and youth. His father also owned a manor in Bad Bramstedt in Schleswig-Holstein, where the family also lived for many years. Young Karl attended the Jürgen Fuhlendorf Realschule there, but left 1951 without a degree.

As a student, Lagerfeld was interested in fashion drawings and was considered artistically talented. His unconventional mother promoted his talent and moved to Paris with her son in 1952, where he graduated from the renowned Lycée Montaigne.


His career as a fashion designer began in Paris in 1954 with a competition from the International Woolmark Secretariat, which he won in the coats category. Another winner of the competition was Yves Saint Laurent, who won the prize for his dress designs, and the jury included Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy.

This award opened the doors to the Parisian fashion scene for Lagerfeld. This was followed by employment as a personal assistant to the French fashion entrepreneur Pierre Balmain, where he also completed a tailoring apprenticeship.

In 1957 Lagerfeld moved to the fashion label Jean Patou as artistic director. A few years later he went to Italy and started to make a name for himself as a freelance fashion consultant and stylist. During this time he already designed for well-known labels such as Valentino, Charles Jourdan and Chloé, where he became creative director in 1964.

During this time, Lagerfeld also worked for Fendi, whose fur collection he was to modernize.

Career highlights

Lagerfeld achieved international fame when he was appointed chief designer of the French fashion company Chanel in 1983. He helped the fashion label, which was badly hit at the time, to become famous again and thus became a celebrated star in the fashion world.

A year later, the then 51-year-old designer also opened his own fashion company with a shop on the Champs-Elysées under his own name. His label initially had only moderate success and Lagerfeld sold the rights to the brand in 1987. There are now several fashion lines for the label, and although he no longer owns them, Lagerfeld himself has repeatedly designed collections for the brand.

After moving to Chanel, Lagerfeld continued to design collections for other major fashion brands and temporarily continued his work as artistic director for the Chloé label. In addition to his designs for luxury brands, Lagerfeld also offered its own fashion lines in the low-priced segment, for example for the mail order company Quelle and the Swedish fashion group H&M.

Karl Lagerfeld died on February 19, 2019 in the Paris suburb of Neuilly-sur-Seine.

Famous quotes

“I hate the word cheap. People are cheap, but clothing is expensive or inexpensive ”.

“Standing on the assembly line is work. What I do is leisure activities with a professional background ”.

“Anyone who cheats on me must know that forgiveness is not part of my vocabulary.”

“I don’t know stress either. I only know rhinestones. I am in the fashion industry ”.

“The money has to come out of the window so that it can come back in the door”.

“Whining rags don’t move anything. Self-pity is out ”.

“Only dull heads believe that success is a permanent condition”.

“I advise people not to look at so many things on your iPad, because then you will lose your imagination! I personally close my eyes and can watch my own films for hours ”.

Success tips

Lagerfeld saw the secret of his own career success in discipline and toughness. As he once revealed in an interview, it was the persistent hard work and a pitiless, iron determination that made him successful.

On the other hand, he found sentimentality and self-overestimation to be a hindrance to success. Also, money never played a major role for him. Soberly, he viewed it as a necessary means of being able to spend.

The creed of his artistic work was never satisfied and always striving to improve. In addition, Lagerfeld also repeatedly emphasized how important it is not to take yourself too seriously and to maintain an attitude of self-irony.


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