Karl Lagerfeld Photo
Late 20th Century French Modern Photography
Late 20th Century French Modern Photography
Late 20th Century American Modern Photography
Karl Lagerfeld Biography and Important Works
More than a mere tastemaker, Karl Lagerfeld devoted himself to the continual pursuit of chic. “My life and my job,” the designer once said, “is to forget myself.” During his five-decade career designing shoes, handbags, evening dresses and other items for Chanel, Fendi, Chloé and many others, Lagerfeld was a quintessential chameleon, ever evolving to embody the times.
An outsize, instantly recognizable personality — his ponytail powdered like an 18th-century viscount, his eyes perpetually shielded by dark glasses, wearing fistfuls of chunky silver jewels — Lagerfeld was, above all, an avatar of style.
Born in Hamburg (in 1933, ’35, or ’38 by varying accounts), Karl Lagerfeld packed his bags for Paris in 1954. His design for a coat won him the International Wool Secretariat and landed him a job with the celebrated couturier Pierre Balmain. He went on to become the designer of Jean Patou, eventually realizing that his seemingly endless ideas could fuel a career as a designer-for-hire. As such, Lagerfeld lent his vision to everyone from Loewe and Max Mara to Krizia and Charles Jourdan, nimbly moving among a diverse range of styles. It was an unprecedented way of working in the days when freelance was still a dirty word. During the late ’60s and ’70s, he refashioned Chloé to reflect the free spirit of the day and, beginning in 1965, joined forces with the Fendi family, taking it from sleepy furrier to fashion’s haute-est stratum.
Because of his track record for reviving and reimagining brands that had grown stagnant, in 1984 Lagerfeld was handed the reins at Chanel, which had been gathering dust since its founder’s heyday. From his first collection, Lagerfeld injected the venerable house with a frisson of modernity. He riffed on its iconography — tweed skirt suits, pearls, camellias — accenting a lexicon of Chanel-isms with tastes of the moment. Despite producing eight collections a year for Chanel, as well as four to five for Fendi, Lagerfeld never faltered in proposing new ideas each time he put pencil to paper.
Lagerfeld’s collections for Chanel, in particular, displayed his knack for synthesizing old and new, high and low. From Watteau (Spring/Summer 1985 couture) and Serge Roche (Spring/Summer 1990 ready-to-wear) to hip-hop fly girls (Fall/Winter 1991 ready-to-wear), surfers (Spring/Summer 2003 ready-to-wear) and ancient Egypt (Pre-Fall 2019), Lagerfeld used each season’s inspiration to conceive Chanel’s signatures anew.
Browse a collection of sophisticated designs by Karl Lagerfeld on 1stDibs, including evening gowns for Chanel, vintage cocktail dresses for Chloé and more.
A Close Look at Modern Furniture
The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw sweeping social change and major scientific advances — both of which contributed to a new aesthetic: modernism. Rejecting the rigidity of Victorian artistic conventions, modernists sought a new means of expression. References to the natural world and ornate classical embellishments gave way to the sleek simplicity of the Machine Age. Architect Philip Johnson characterized the hallmarks of modernism as “machine-like simplicity, smoothness or surface [and] avoidance of ornament.”
Followers of both groups produced sleek, spare designs — many of which became icons of daily life in the 20th century. The modernists rejected both natural and historical references and relied primarily on industrial materials such as metal, glass, plywood, and, later, plastics. While Bauhaus principals Marcel Breuer and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe created furniture from mass-produced, chrome-plated steel, American visionaries like Charles and Ray Eames worked in materials as novel as molded plywood and fiberglass. Today, Breuer’s Wassily chair, Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair — crafted with his romantic partner, designer Lilly Reich — and the Eames lounge chair are emblems of progressive design and vintage originals are prized cornerstones of collections.
It’s difficult to overstate the influence that modernism continues to wield over designers and architects — and equally difficult to overstate how revolutionary it was when it first appeared a century ago. But because modernist furniture designs are so simple, they can blend in seamlessly with just about any type of décor. Don’t overlook them.
Finding the Right Wall Decorations for You
An empty wall in your home is a blank canvas, and that’s good news. Whether you’ve chosen to arrange a collage of paintings in a hallway or carefully position a handful of wall-mounted sculptures in your dining room, there are a lot of options for beautifying your space with the antique and vintage wall decor and decorations available on 1stDibs.
“I recommend leaving enough space above the piece of furniture to allow for usable workspace and to protect the art from other items damaging it,” says Susana Simonpietri, of Brooklyn home design studio Chango & Co.
Hanging a single attention-grabbing large-scale print or poster over your bar or bar cart can prove intoxicating, but the maximalist approach of a salon-style hang, a practice rooted in 17th-century France, can help showcase works of various shapes, styles and sizes on a single wall or part of a wall.
If you’re planning on creating an accent wall — or just aiming to bring a variety of colors and textures into a bedroom — there is more than one way to decorate with wallpaper. Otherwise, don’t overlook what textiles can introduce to a space. A vintage tapestry can work wonders and will be easy to move when you’ve found that dream apartment in another borough.
Express your taste and personality with the right ornamental touch for the walls of your home or office — find a range of contemporary art, vintage photography, paintings and other wall decor and decorations on 1stDibs now.