Portrait of clothing designer Karl Lagerfeld, the most Parisian of Germans, who has been living in Paris since the age of 14 and currently works in a renowned ready-to-wear company.
Dates are uncertain when talking about the German stylists life, but the portrait is immutable: black suit and tied back hair, Karl Lagerfeld is haute-couture frivolous elegance incarnate and has been for nearly fifty years.
Born in Hamburg in 1938 according to his official CV, some say he's getting younger. Raised as an aristocrat by a Swedish father who made his fortune by importing Gloria condensed milk into Germany, and a violinist mother, the young man wasn't too interested in school. He spoke no less than three languages when he arrived in Paris between 14 and 17 years old according to different interviews given. He would meet a quick success by winning, in 1954, the competition organised by the International Wool Secretariat, with a sketch of a coat, while in the dress category, the seventeen year old winner was called Yves Saint Laurent.
Followed by a prestigious career working for the large houses: Balmain, Patou, Valentino, Fendi, Chloé and from 1983, Chanel, where he made his mark. Dusting off the emblematic tweed-clad tailor, the incarnation of "French chic", this guru would also invent the "Chanel Icons" from Inès de la Fressange to Claudia Schiffer. Fond of graphic cuts, black and white contrasts, hard lines broken by a touch of femininity, Karl Lagerfeld imposed his style on rue Cambon. Cultivated and caustic, he says he draws inspiration from Mademoiselle Julie, heroin of August Strindberg and portraits of Romaine Brooks, the androgynous and bisexual American painter who dressed in black, grey and white.