Will the late, great Karl Lagerfeld be studied in business schools?
He should be.
While he claimed a complete disinterest in economics and marketing, frequently scoffing at the latter as something inscrutable and repellent, the designer had unerring instincts for new creative approaches that often became influential business models. Lagerfeld forged the modern template for reinventing heritage brands; sped the rhythm of collections at the highest levels of fashion; brought storytelling and content to the fore; pushed ready-to-wear prices into five figures, and proved that bold spending can be a path to profits.
A look from Karl Lagerfeld’s Paris-Bombay Chanel Metiers d’Art Fall 2011 collection.
What’s more, his character — kindhearted, and polite to a fault — and his approach to his work — exacting and uncompromising — created an elegant, familial corporate culture that engendered incredible loyalty and devotion. His longevity at Chanel and Fendi — spanning 36 and 54 years, respectively — was echoed in a long list of colleagues that stayed by his side for decades, including Chanel studio director Virginie Viard, who was entrusted to carry on Lagerfeld’s legendary creative work. (She started as an intern and rose to become director of Chanel’s fashion creation studio.)
Few designers straddled as