Last month we lost Karl Lagerfeld, at the grand old age of 85, still going strong as a designer up to the end. Lagerfeld features heavily in Made for Walking: his 1977 collection for Chloe, which featured swashbuckling over-the-knee boots inspired by Federico Fellini’s Casanova; his 1982 collection for the same company, which combined narrow skirts with tall, low-heeled boots to create the impression that the women were wearing pants; the loose-fitting, high heeled suede boots of his 1985 Fendi collection; his iconic 1991 biker boot for Chanel. But perhaps my favorite, by far, was his 1990 haute couture collection for Chanel. In a cheeky homage to Coco Chanel’s famous dislike of knees, Lagerfeld combined massive, opulent ballgowns with thigh-high satin boots (above). He described the look as “Madonna meets Jayne Wrightsman,” in a nod to the latter’s renowned collection of decorative arts of the ancien régime. Lagerfeld was, in the words of his New York Times obituary, one of the first examples of the designer as shape shifter, “the creative force who lands at the top of a heritage brand and reinvents it by identifying its sartorial semiology and then pulls it into the present with a healthy dose of disrespect and a dollop of pop culture.”
- Rock ‘n Royalty. Vogue 180.10, Oct 1, 1990: pp. 328-329 via Evolution Revolution
- Karl Lagerfeld, Designer Who Defined Luxury Fashion, Is Dead. New York Times, Feb 19, 2019.
- Anon. Chloeallure: Beautiful Costumes from The Dressing-Up Box. Vogue UK, Sept 1977: pp.126-129
- Morris, Bernadine. At Lagerfeld’s Paris show, the 18th Century goes modern. New York Times, Mar 29, 1977: pg.41.
- Morris, Bernadine. St Laurent: No Fuss, Just Style. New York Times, April 1, 1982: pg. C8.
- Morris, Bernadine. Fall Sportswear: A Wide Range of Themes. New York Times, May 3, 1985, pB10
- Morris, Bernadine. Paris in Perspective: Outdoors to Outrageous. New York Times, July 31, 1990: pg. B6
- Hochswedder, Woody, Reporter’s Notebook: In Paris, Ghastly Music and Frye Boots. New York Times, Mar 21, 1991: Pg. C10