Farewell Karl Lagerfeld, a Fashion Icon
We usually don’t get too personal on the OuiBlog, but today is a little different. As many of you know by now, Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic Chanel designer, has passed at 85-years-old. One of the most prolific and admired fashion designers of modern times, Lagerfeld was a force to be reckoned with. He created new silhouettes, mentored young designers and supermodels, and kept everyone on their toes with his innovative concepts and sharp wit. He put his mark on Chanel, Chloe, Fendi, and his eponymous brand, but his grandiose visions and devotion to chicness even influenced brands like OuiPlease.
Where My Admiration for Chanel Began
My love for Chanel began at an early age. Born and raised in Paris, I used to borrow (without her knowing) my mother’s Chanel bags – that’s what we all do, right? Later on, while I was working towards a diploma in Luxury International Management, Chanel was of course one of the most studied Maisons at school. We studied everything about the fashion house from Coco to Karl.
In 2012, when I was back in Paris getting my Visa renewed to finally be able to move fully to the US to start OuiPlease, my mother surprised me with a box from Rue Cambon. To my surprise (and delight!), she bought me my first pair of Chanel ballet flats that day. Red with a rounded toe, quilted stitching, a gold branded emblem on the sole of the shoe. I am more of all-black person when it comes to getting dressed, but this classic red flat was the perfect little twist to pair with anything. It was the quintessential combination of Coco and Karl. And thus began my adoration for Karl Lagerfeld’s Chanel – a timeless, chic brand for the modern woman. A beacon of reinvention.
The following month – finally back in the US – I was working hard on the French luxury subscription box for American women, and decided that Dallas, Texas was where I wanted to plant the OuiPlease Headquarters. From the beginning, I was asked, “Why Dallas?” No one understood. I didn’t have an answer for them, it just felt right.
The Pushback From The French Press
Coincidentally, I read that Karl Lagerfeld faced similar pushback upon deciding to take the helm at Chanel. Before Karl arrived at the brand in the early ’80s, everyone thought Chanel was over. The French fashion press deemed Chanel tired… boring even. Karl was encouraged not to take the position, but he didn’t listen. Karl revived the brand by maintaining its heritage but weaving in a fresh, modern flair. Karl went on to become the only designer to receive the Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion – once in 1980 for his work with Chloe, and again in 2014 for his work with Chanel.
This poignant story about trusting your instinct and staying true to your vision feels very familiar. In the beginning, when OuiPlease was young, confidence and vision were key to drowning out the negative opinions of others. Funny enough, the first OuiPlease office was in downtown Dallas on Main Street directly in front of Neiman Marcus. When I would sit in the office at 4 a.m. calling French contacts, the soft glow from Neiman’s back-lit signage reminded me of Karl’s legendary accomplishments and devotion to his goals.
Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, and the OuiPlease Journey
So the next time you open your OuiPlease box, know that it is inspired by Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. The signature Chanel black and white is a tribute to the classic, French style. It’s a celebration of the finer things in life. It’s a reminder that reinvention is always possible. So merci, Karl, for inspiring me and being a part of the OuiPlease DNA.
What are your favorite memories of Chanel or Karl Lagerfeld? Please share them with me in the comments below!