Lagerfeld for less

The name Karl Lagerfeld conjures up images of inimitable style, dark sunglasses, fans a-flutter and adoring fans. Lagerfeld’s career in fashion spans fifty years, from his auspicious start as an apprentice at the house of Balmain to his current roles as creative director for Chanel and Fendi and his own lines, the high-end Lagerfeld Collection and the more affordable Karl Lagerfeld Label.

His name-sake fashion lines debuted during last week’s New York Fashion Week and were a great success. It is as if Lagerfeld can do no wrong. Some would argue that designing a cheaper line dilutes a luxury brand’s identity, but Lagerfeld already proved that not to be the case when he designed a one-off collection for high-street retailer H&M. If anything, his star seemed to rise even higher as everyone clamoured to own a piece of Lagerfeld.

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His reputation is such that US department stores Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman purchased his spring collections without even having seen them. “When the best of the best designers tells you they are going to delve into a new venture, often you’re going to get behind it,” Jim Gold, chief executive of Bergdorf Goodman told The New York Times.

”All you need to do is put the Lagerfeld name on anything, and people line up at the door,” agreed Sara Albrecht, the owner of Ultimo in Chicago ”Normally when I hear about a designer doing a lower-price line, I cringe. But he has such a perception of the consumer and how they wear clothes in reality that it could really work.”

The Karl Lagerfeld Label consists of dresses for $495, jeans at $275 and T-shirts for $155. The line, which is modern, cool, urban and cutting-edge, was designed and developed in New York by a team of twenty-odd designers headed by Lagerfeld’s trusted stylist Melanie Ward and creative director of the line. Instead of a hands-on approach, Lagerfeld worked on the high end Lagerfeld Gallery collection in Paris, sharing his vision with Ward by telephone and through books and photographs and on several visits to the city. He did not see the finished product, nor did she see his, until the shows last week.

The two lines are owned by the Hilfiger Corporation, which acquired the Lagerfeld Gallery label for $27.5 million.

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