Becoming You

Vintage Handbags And Karl Lagerfeld Lessons

1 OCTOBER 2014,
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel - Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture F/W 2012/13
Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel - Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture F/W 2012/13

The day when a vintage Karl Lagerfeld handbag fell into my possession, was the day when my curiosity had been kickstarted. I was fascinated by the designer known for his witticisms and eccentrics. To Lagerfeld - “designing is like breathing” and “to not do anything is boredom”. At 81, the designer has no intention of slowing down, and his work ethic is as strong as ever. He was born September 10th, 1933 in Hamburg Germany, and soon found his talents in drawing. However his mother insisted he was born too late to become an illustrator or a painter. With that in mind, the young Lagerfeld emigrated to Paris at the age of 14 and fell into the fashion world.

Lagerfeld worked for Balmain, and later Fendi and Chanel, becoming the creative director of the two fashion houses. One located in Italy, the other in France. In 1984, he created the label KL by Karl Lagerfeld. His talents led him to fashion design, but don’t forget he also has photography, home design, illustration and a vast knowledge in art and history under his belt. Lagerfeldʼs various interests, and talents have made him one of the great designers of our time, and yet, he maintains an independence from the fashion houses he's worked for. If you were to learn one thing from Karl Lagerfeld (besides flip flops being a big faux pas) it would be that it is possible to be known for being yourself. In the witty designers case, he is not known as Coco Chanelʼs successor, but simply as Karl Lagerfeld.

Many factors contribute to his success at maintaining an independence. To follow his example one has to recognize that age does not make you irrelevant. And, Re-invention is something you canʼt be afraid of. In 2001, Lagerfeld took the opportunity to turn his rapid weight loss of 92lbs in 13 months into a diet book. His new, thinner appearance garnered him attention, reinvigorating himself to re-invention.

He is also known for his stories and, sometimes, controversial quotes. My favourite Lagerfeld story involved him opting to freeze to death simply because he didnʼt own the coat he had his eye on, and well, his father eventually bought it for him.

The Karl Lagerfeld that we know today is often recognized for his interesting trademarks, in the past that involved his fan motifs and backstage at fashion shows he had been seen fanning himself. Now he is seen wearing leather gloves, and still never takes off his signature style accessory - a pair of dark sunglasses. Out of all of his signature trademarks, I enjoy his white bouffant hairstyle the most, it shows his admiration for the 18th century, plus it’s a nod to Mozart.

Anyway, I won’t even get into the topic of Lagerfeldʼs beloved cat, Choupette. But a capsule collection of the pampered kitty is going to be released soon for Lagerfeldʼs label. So, to take a page out from Karl Lagerfeldʼs book in keeping yourself independent, always be exciting, never succumb to idleness, and don’t be afraid of change. As for that Karl Lagerfeld handbag that came into my life, Iʼm thinking of wearing it when there’s a day that calls for “intellectual sexiness” ( The bag is from Lagerfeldʼs 1984 collection that was dedicated to just that). Imagine a handbag with a shape only the 80ʼs could have created, and a chunk of medal imitating a wax seal with the words “Karl Lagerfeld, Paris” accompanied by yes, his famous fan motifs.