The Problem with Karl Lagerfeld

Renowned and controversial fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld passed away at the age of 85 this week, leading to a slew of celebrities both praising the iconic designer or bashing him for his problematic statements. As the head of Chanel and Fendi, he broadly expanded fashion through thousands of designs and collaborations with other brands. When someone famous dies, it’s easy to get heated with opinions about the person either way, but it is still important to look at all perspectives. Personally, I believe Lagerfeld’s extremely problematic language and behavior in no way justifies his contributions to the fashion world.

Karl Lagerfeld is a man of paradoxes: brilliant, yet infuriating, one-of-a-kind but discriminatory. For one, in an interview with Numero last year, the prolific fashion director called male models “stupid” and “sordid creatures,” and that he was “fed up” with the #MeToo movement. In the very same interview, Lagerfeld managed to use the word “retarded.” In several instances, he has made fatphobic, sexist statements, famously in regards to Adele and Heidi Klum. He has also been accused in numerous years of being Islamophobic and racist. Those are just a few of the many controversial arguments made against Lagerfeld.

When you look back at someone’s life, it’s easy to ignore certain parts of it. But to remain open-minded and truly take a critical look, you must consider both their successes and faults. No one is perfect, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold people accountable for their problematic actions.


Student at the University of Michigan studying Art & Design and Communication & Media, hoping to create meaningful design for social impact. Every week I highlight an intriguing artist (or group of artists)!

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