Karl Lagerfeld — one of the world’s most famous, prolific and admired designers — is to receive the 2017 John B. Fairchild Honor at the WWD Apparel & Retail CEO Summit here on Oct. 24.
Named after WWD’s late chairman and editorial director and chosen by its current editors, the honor was introduced in 2016 as part of an annual celebration of creative vision, performance and leadership in the fashion industry. Ralph Lauren was the first recipient.
The recognition for Lagerfeld comes as the multitasking designer readies Chanel’s cruise collection for a Paris runway on May 3 — and amidst an illustrious career that has spanned more than 60 years.
The German designer is most closely associated with Chanel, where he has been its couturier since 1983. He is also the creative force behind the furs and ready-to-wear at Fendi, which he has designed since 1965, and his signature fashion house, now best known for handbags in the burgeoning affordable luxury segment.
More than a designer, Lagerfeld is something of a fashion mastermind, adroit at all aspects of image making and public relations, and a business maverick who ignited the so-called “masstige” movement in 2004 by teaming with Swedish fast-fashion giant H&M for a one-off collection that inspired scores of other low-cost players.
He is also an accomplished photographer, shooting ad campaigns for the Chanel, Fendi and Karl brands, plus a diverse roster of outside clients. He also does editorial shoots for many fashion magazines and has recently taken on a host of interior design projects, including condominium lobbies and hotels.
Sketches by Karl Lagerfeld decorate the walls throughout the Fendi boutique on Rodeo Drive.
Practically allergic to backward glances, Lagerfeld said he never fails to be fascinated and energized by his chosen métier.
“I don’t have any archive. I’m not a museum person. I’m only interested in what I’m doing now and what I will do,” he told WWD between fittings for a Fendi pre-collection. “Look at the recent evolution with the Internet and all that. It’s like the beginning of a new world in fashion.”
Lagerfeld is a Commander in the French Legion of Honor merit system, and he has also been honored by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Fashion Group International, the Gordon Parks Foundation and the Fashion Institute of Technology.
“No one is more deserving of this award than Karl, whose dazzling creativity and outsize personality keeps him at the forefront of our industry,” said Miles Socha, editor in chief of WWD. “He set a gold standard for long-term influence and relevance, and for house reinvention. With his wit, culture and showmanship, he makes the fashion world more fascinating, more spectacular — and more fun.”
In addition to receiving the award from WWD on Oct. 24, Lagerfeld is to take to the stage and share a conversation with WWD executive editor Bridget Foley during the summit’s dinner programming.
The John B. Fairchild Honor is one of five awards to be handed out at WWD’s summit, scheduled over two days at The Pierre hotel here. The recipients of other honors — including ones for outstanding company performance large and small market capitalization, executive leadership and social responsibility — are to be revealed at a later date.