Label: Chanel; Fendi
Creative Director since: 1983; 1965
Most people know Karl Lagerfeld as a very recognizable character from the fashion world that has pretty much become a pop culture icon. What they might not know is that he has been captaining the houses of Chanel and Fendi for an absurd amount of time, and has led both labels to a place that both traditionalists and new fans can appreciate.
Before Lagerfeld came on board, Fendi was a much-loved but small-scale operation. Lagerfeld turned the brand into an international status symbol with its luxe fur garments, and soon expanded its offerings to include a little bit of everything for discerning customers around the globe. Fendi and glamor were synonymous under Lagerfeld's direction, and he continues to create product that maintains a leading position in the fashion landscape.
Not many designers have the ability to revive entire fashion houses. When Lagerfeld was first offered a role at Chanel, he was advised to leave the once-vaunted but then-staid label alone. Of course, Lagerfeld saw this as a challenge, and the rest is history. While adhering to the traditions and philosophies of classic Chanel, he's also evolved the brand and progressed it to a place that attracts attention, praise, and, of course, dollars. At the age of 80, Lagerfeld's output in terms of quantity puts every other designer's to shame.