Did the late Karl Lagerfeld set Cara Delevingne on the path to becoming an actress, budding musician — and now fashion guru?
Hearing her recount her first few times as a model for Lagerfeld, starting with Chanel’s spring 2012 couture collection with her airplane ensemble and troll-like upright hairstyles, one could deduce as much.
“There was so much to do with playing a role. I think it was the first time in fashion that I was really allowed to play these different roles,” she said in an interview to discuss her capsule collection with label Karl Lagerfeld, which will be released September 8 in Karl Lagerfeld stores, on karl.com. and through selected wholesale partners worldwide.
The British model said Lagerfeld was always up for it when she suggested acting on the runway, like she did for a 2016 Chanel show at the Ritz, kissing another model’s hand and sharing a tango moment with a waiter.
For a Chanel show in Salzburg in 2014, the German designer went so far as to cast Delevingne as Empress Elisabeth of Austria, popularly known as “Sisi”, opposite Pharrell Williams, for a short film which he accomplished. The two danced and sang an original duet – “CC the World”.
(“For her, starting to sing with Pharrell isn’t so bad, right?” Lagerfeld was deadpan at the time.)
“He really influenced me so much,” Delevingne gushed about Lagerfeld during a recent Teams interview. “He never told me to do anything specific but he gave me space to grow and he would treat me like a friend…He was so human to me and that made me feel so much more comfortable with myself.
In fact, her openness and encouragement eventually gave Delevingne the confidence to share an idea she had for a Chanel show, which Lagerfeld was unable to pull off before her death in February 2019.
“I was so nervous about telling him, but he was like, ‘Wow, I can’t believe I never thought of that,'” she recounted, while refusing to disclose the concept.
Delevingne and Lagerfeld shared the same vision of fashion in many ways, which the capsule collection demonstrates by emphasizing wearability, practical touches like pockets, a playful spirit, chic tailoring – and several interpretations of the shirt, Lagerfeld’s favorite item of clothing.
It was Lagerfeld who instilled in Delevingne a taste for his profession.
“I didn’t know much about fashion before I started. I never really gave him that much credit,” she confessed. “He taught me so much more about fashion in terms of the possibilities.”
His closeness to Lagerfeld, whose prodigious knowledge and refined taste extended to interiors and industrial design, certainly seeped through.
During fashion shoots with him, Delevingne realized how much clothes can make you feel, mentioning a Marie Antoinette outfit for a photography session that made her feel very different from herself and appreciate ” how interesting fashion really is.”
“I don’t think people should be judged on what they wear, but when you ask people why they wear what they wear, it’s a very interesting story. And even if they don’t care what they wear, that’s also interesting too,” she reflected.
Certainly, she was impressed with Lagerfeld’s ability to juggle multiple brands, including Fendi, and handle it all with “such finesse. This he didn’t even look like he was trying either. He obviously was, but he just made it look so easy.
Lagerfeld often spoke of the need to “push things,” so she applied it to collaboration, placing sustainability and a gender-neutral approach at the top of her agenda. She also based the Cara Loves Karl capsule on well-made wardrobe staples “that you feel good wearing. … I just wanted it to be just different and something I’ve never done before.”
She took a very hands-on approach, another main quality of Lagerfeld, as much as her schedule and technical skills allowed.
“It was very important for me to see samples, to be involved as much as possible,” she said.
Delevingne was filming a TV show in Prague, where an hour-long meeting with Lagerfeld’s design team turned into a four-hour session to try on clothes, make suggestions, and brainstorm new ideas. “It was a really wonderful collaborative experience,” she said.
It was important to her that the clothes were practical and convertible, so a black nylon jacket turns into silky faux fur, and the hoods and collars are detachable on other clothes. Delevingne put the kibosh on a pink prototype, emphasizing baby blue as a more neutral shade.
She kept the focus on tailored pieces, shirts and some jeans. “They’re all so ‘me’ these pieces, because they’re so easy to wear,” she shrugs. “I like to be sober, but also chic.”
Designs have a “Victor/Victoria” look in which shirts, blazers and denim jackets are split into two halves that button together, so a shirt can be half striped/half plain; normal length, cropped or partially unbuttoned to expose a little belly, for example.
“She didn’t just put her name on it, she really made history,” Karl Lagerfeld’s design director Hun Kim told WWD earlier this year.
During the interview, Delevingne casually mentioned another commonality with Lagerfeld, who first picked up a camera in the late ’80s and later shot editorials for top international magazines, as well as campaigns for all the brands he designed for.
“I love, I love taking pictures. I travel with two huge camera bags,” she said. “It’s something I did a lot when I was younger. kind of stopped doing it when i started modeling but it’s my favorite thing to do especially if you meet someone who maybe doesn’t like having their picture taken and you are able to capture him in a way that he sees himself and they’re like, ‘Oh my god!’ It gives me so much joy.
Billed as a first, the Cara Loves Karl capsule campaign will feature avatars of Lagerfeld and Delevingne interacting in a digital playground. It will debut on the brand’s social media alongside the collection’s release on September 8.
The brand, based in Amsterdam and Paris, is also planning 15 pop-up stores around the world, including those at 105 Wooster Street in New York, Via Alessandro Manzoni in Milan, The Grove in Los Angeles and Galeries Lafayette Champs-Élysées. in Paris.
Lagerfeld once described Delevingne as “the Charlie Chaplin of the fashion world. He’s kind of genius, like a silent movie character.
The British model, who almost single-handedly started a trend towards fuller eyebrows, has represented a host of fashion and beauty brands in advertising, including Rimmel, Tag Heuer, Puma, Saint Laurent, Fendi, Chanel, Balmain , Dior and A|X. Armani Exchange. She has also designed collections for DKNY and Mulberry.
Delevingne started acting with “Anna Karenina” in 2012, then starred in films such as “Suicide Squad” and “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets”, with Rihanna. Other film credits include “Paper Towns”, “The Face of an Angel”, “Her Smell” and “Life in a Year” opposite Jaden Smith.
Delevingne can be seen in the second season of “Only Murders in the Building,” and a second season of “Carnival Row” will be released next year, she said, declining to comment on fall plans. These are believed to include the eco-thriller ‘The Climb’ about female activists scaling a skyscraper.
His documentary “Planet Sex” is also set to premiere before the end of the year.
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