Chanel's Karl Lagerfeld still looking to the next collection

At 81, Karl Lagerfeld shows few signs of slowing down and says he’ll be happy to die in the saddle.

Fashion designer talks to Amanda Lang about how he designs and why he loves it

He won't stop 'till he drops

8 years ago
Duration 18:20
Chanel head designer Karl Lagerfeld, 81, discusses his creative spark

At 81, Karl Lagerfeld shows few signs of slowing down and says he'll be happy to die in the saddle.

The German-born fashion designer who turned around the Chanel brand has also created prêt-â-porter, designed for Madonna and the theatre and developed his own label.

In an interview with CBC's The Exchange with Amanda Langhe says he still looks forward to the next collection.

All my contracts are lifelong, so I have to die on the job.— Designer Karl Lagerfeld

"You know what I like about fashion is next step, next step, next step, six months, six months.… Now it's even three months, because there are so many collections with the cruises," he says.

The Lagerfeld stamp is considered iconic, whether it's with Chanel, where he has been head of design for 30 years, or for labels such as Fendi, Diesel or H&M, to which he has loaned his cachet. He says he does it for the challenge.

"I am never pleased with what I did. I always hope that I can do better, that the next time it will be better," Lagerfeld says.

"And I always wanted, seeing as I am vaguely popular, saying that in a very modest way, to do something for people who like fashion who can buy without [it being] too expensive, and this is what I want the Lagerfeld label to be. So I like the idea of being a designer on different levels. And I think I cope quite well with it."

Team like a 'Swiss watch'

Lagerfeld says his design team at Chanel, some of whom have worked with him for years, work like a "Swiss watch."

That leaves him free to design, to photograph his works and to dabble in projects like the  one he's taken on in Toronto, where he will design lobbies for the Art Shoppe Lofts and Condos.

It's not his first interior design project — he also designed a residential building in Taiwan and a hotel in Macau. 

Asked where he gets his ideas, Lagerfeld says there's no formula for design.

"Sometimes I have ideas in the oddest places, you know, and then I have to run and find the paper and put the idea on the paper, because I can't forget it. It's a very strange thing you know, it should stay a strange thing, because it's not a recipe," he says.

Fashion is so "in the moment," Lagerfeld says, he rarely thinks of his legacy and almost never of slowing down.

"All my contracts are lifelong, so I have to die on the job," he says.


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