Karl Lagerfeld loved drama and mystery, and mischieviously changed the year of his birth according to whoever he was talking to, and whatever the circumstance he found himself in. The most agreed about year is 1933. He was born in Hamburg and was sketching from his earliest days. He claimed visits to the Hamburger Kunsthalle in his hometown were more of an education than any of his formal schooling.
He worked for Fendi, Chloe and Krizia, among others, before landing at Chanel in the early 1980s. The brand was looking for both a way to modernize and to market themselves in a changing world. Karl was more than up to the task. He loved mingling with the rich and royal, and it was almost inevitable that the House of Karl would meet up with the House of Grimaldi.
Caroline met Lagerfeld when she was 16 years old. In 2019, she remembered the event.
“So it’s been more than 45 years of friendship! It was a photo shoot for the American Vogue organised by Mary Russell that my mother knew well, and it was done in Karl’s apartment, place Saint-Sulpice, in Paris. We ended up there with Chris von Wangenheim, wonderful fashion photographer. I wore Chloé clothes that Karl drew. It was a really happy atmosphere, I was very shy at that age.”Princess Caroline, interviewed for Point de Vue
It was the tri-covergence of the Chanel aesthetic, the Caroline fame, and the Karl flair that made the combination work so dramatically for so many years. The man we fondly refer to as Crazy Uncle Karl actually crafted a unique, chic, and very often beautiful aesthetic for his royal muse.
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In the early years, Caroline sported the traditional Chanel aesthetic, with the twist of adding one thing, rather than removing one thing.
In the late eighties, Caroline and Carole Bouquet discuss how their progeny will one day marry and the two will have have mother-in-law Chanelfest at the wedding! (It really happened!). Note the very eighties details on both women’s ensembles.
Caroline (now of Hanover) wore this intriguing Chanel coat with a “sack back” for Monaco’s National Day in 2005.
She returned to Chanel the next year, with the classic black and white twist. The white gloves are a nice touch.
She shared her love of the designer with her older daughter, Charlotte, both shown here wearing variation of the classic pieces.
Caroline is committed to Chanel, whether dressing up or down, in this case pairing a classic Chanel jacket with jeans for a Chanel ready-to-wear show.
Caroline and Karl worked together on Caroline’s pet project, the Rose Ball, for several years. In 2013, the ball’s theme was “La Belle Epoque”, and Caroline wore, of course, Chanel. Note the insignia on the clutch!
Caroline and her younger daughter, Princess Alexandra, continue to honor their friend’s legacy. They attended the 2020 Chanel runway show together, Chanel-clad head to foot.
The Next Generation
Karl Lagerfeld died in January 2019, and Princess Caroline lost not just a designer, but a good friend. Recently the mantle has been passed to a new generation. Caroline’s daughter, Charlotte, appeared in Chanel’s SS21 advertising campaign and will be a spokersperson for the brand.
Next week we’ll check in with one of Caroline’s daughter-in-laws and the designer that has done her right.