The fashion world has lost another icon.
Renowned designer Karl Lagerfeld passed away in Paris earlier this morning, ending his astounding era as a Creative Director for Chanel, Fendi and his own namesake label. The one that made it possible for Frank Ocean to even croon about “seeing both sides like Chanel” — Mr. Lagerfeld famously created the “double C” logo back in the ’80s when he assumed the role after Coco Chanel’s death in 1971 — Karl was always about pushing boundaries, creating conversation around his creations and ultimately pulling from all sources of influence to construct ready-to-wear garments that would truly be groundbreaking. He accomplished that and so much more, but one key source of inspiration that isn’t talked about enough is his fascination with Hip-Hop fashion. It’s currently apparent with the examples of lyrical praise as mentioned above and in countless other rap verses, but Karl Lagerfeld has honestly been a rap fiend since the very beginning.
As seen above in Vogue‘s video profile of the Chanel Autumn/Winter 1991 fashion show, which took place less than a decade after he became head of haute couture designs in 1983 and then ready-to-wear as well in 1984, the core influence for that season in particular was borrowed from the rise of rap in the early ’90s. Big bling, oversized caps, leather outwear that looked like bubble flight jackets and supermodel Stephanie Roberts effortlessly making her way down the runway in denim and a perfectly-picked afro all made for the perfect tribute. One of the looks from the show, worn by fellow fashion diva Linda Evangelista, even inspired an unforgettable ‘fit worn by rap queen Cardi B during a performance of “Money Bag” last year on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.
Then there are examples of Lagerfeld’s more direct influences on the rap game, like his longstanding industry friendship with Kanye West — he shot ‘Ye for the cover of VMAN in 2011, sparked collab rumors a year later during a mere power lunch and later captured the Kimye love for the cover of Harper’s Bazaar in 2016 — and his current partnership with Pharrell, which has led to a limited edition pair of adidas NMDs, a Disney Prince-inspired feature in the short film “Reincarnation” directed by Lagerfeld and a current brand collaboration in the works that was teased back in October during the Chanel Cruise 2018/19 replica show. That’s not even to mention the art direction Karl blessed Kanye protégée Theophilus London with for his 2015 sophomore album Vibes!, proving that his eye is on the new school of Hip-Hop just as much as it is on the big curators of our culture.
Creating fashion for the female form was Karl’s expertise, so the women of Hip-Hop were of course in love with his creations the most. One in particular happened to be our sole female 2019 Power 30 Issue inductee Rihanna, who has been a muse for years to the fashion industry impresario, whether she’s front-and-center at the latest Chanel presentation, supporting him over at Fendi, or just rocking one of his vintage designs during an unforgettable performance at the Victoria Secret Fashion Show back in 2012.
During a 2008 Harper’s Bazaar fashion editorial that decked out designers in their fantasy roles, Lagerfeld dressed up as an MC and was quoted as saying, “Believe it or not, I love rap!” No worries, fam — we believe you 100%. The feeling is very mutual.
R.I.P. to Karl Lagerfeld, who will continue to live on through his illustrious designs and mark on the world overall via his vivid vision of style. Let us know your thoughts on this unfortunate loss over on our Facebook and Twitter!