How Did Karl Lagerfeld Get Famous?

If you know fashion, then you know the name Karl Lagerfeld. The man was a staple in the industry and an icon to little styling-crazed boys and girls everywhere.

The powerhouse creative behind brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Chanel, Fendi, and more, Lagerfeld gave us some of the most memorable looks of the last few decades.

But how did he get so famous? How did he come to head so many huge fashion houses?

Let’s take a look.

The Beginning

Lagerfeld was actually born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt, but took the “t” out of his name because he felt that it made him more commercial. The German fashion designer never revealed his actual birthday but it has been reported that he was born on Sep. 10, 1933.

Lagerfeld came from money. His father sold condensed milk throughout Germany and his mother was an acclaimed violin player.

The family seemed to live a charmed life. That is, until Hitler came to power and things began to change. When Hitler began gaining control of Germany, Lagerfeld’s family moved to a very rural area of northern Germany. The designer later claimed that in this town, he was cut off from any information about Nazis, according to

As a child, Lagerfeld was always interested in fashion. By the time he was 14, he decided to move to Paris on his own. While there, he continued sketching and honing his craft.

At 21, Lagerfeld entered the International Wool Secretariat’s design competition, which is now more commonly known as the International Woolmark Prize. He took home first place with a judging panel that consisted of fashion notables like Christian Dior and Hubert de Givenchy.


Lagerfeld then landed a job as a junior assistant with designer Pierre Balmain. Throughout his three years with Balmain, Lagerfeld went from junior assistant to apprentice.

In 1961, Lagerfeld decided to take his career in another direction and look for more work as a freelancer. Soon, he was designing collections for Chloe, Fendi, and more. He was even hired to oversee Fendi’s full fur line.

At this time, the designer became a sort of hired consultant for fashion houses. Labels would bring him in to revive them. One of his most notable achievements was bringing Chanel back from the dead and completely rebranding it in the 1980s.

In 1984, Lagerfeld started his own label which he sold to Tommy Hilfiger in 2005. During this time, Lagerfeld rose to become even more of an icon in fashion, known for his keen eye and creative genius.

Throughout the years, he continued to branch into new territory. He began working in film and photography and even designed a line of glassware for Orefors.

In 2015, the first Karl Lagerfeld store opening in Doha, Qatar.


Lagerfeld was a staple at fashion shows. So when he missed a number of shows in early 2019, people started getting concerned that he was ill.

The German designer died in Paris on Feb. 19, 2019. He was 85 years old.

Read more: Priyanka Chopra’s Career and How She Became Famous 

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