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Karl Lagerfeld: The real reason the late designer always wore fingerless gloves

Formidable fashion designer died in February

Sarah Young
Tuesday 10 September 2019 08:15 BST
Karl Lagerfeld: "My childhood was very simple"

To many fashion fans, the immortalised image of the late Karl Lagerfeld, will always consist of his white ponytail, high collared shirts and signature black sunglasses.

But, there was one element of Lagerfeld’s well-regarded wardrobe that he was almost never seen without; a pair of leather fingerless gloves.

From black and red, to those that came studded and punctuated with zips, gloves became the designer’s signature accessory.

So much so, that he even sold reimagined versions under his eponymous fashion line.

You’d be forgiven for assuming, then, that Lagerfeld’s decision to wear gloves was aligned solely to fashion.

But it seems there was actually much more to them that.

In an interview with Lagerfeld in the inaugural issue of M Magazine in 2012, the designer spoke candidly about his personal style, discussing everything from his aversion to flip-flops to his view on socks.

He also gave insight into his love of gloves, revealing a number of reasons for wearing them so fervently.

“In the old protocol, it is impolite to say hello to somebody who is wearing gloves,” Lagerfeld said.

“It also makes the arm longer. And you know what it means in French to have a long arm?

“It means you are influential.”

The late designer also explained that he preferred fingerless versions because he could still sketch while wearing them.

However, Lagerfeld's fascination with gloves may be aligned to his lifelong dislike for his hands from a young age.

“When I was 14, I wanted to smoke because I wanted to look grown-up,” he once said.

“But my mother said: 'You shouldn't smoke. Your hands are not that beautiful and that shows when you smoke’.”

The German designer also admitted he avoided wearing hats because of something else his mother had said.

“I love hats, in a way, but when I was a child, I'd wear Tyrolean hats, and my mother – I was something like eight – said to me, 'You shouldn't wear hats. You look like an old dyke.'

“Do you say such things to children? She was quite funny, no?”

On Tuesday 19 February, Chanel confirmed that Lagerfeld had passed away at the age of 85 in Paris.

The company has since announced Virginie Viard – Lagerfeld’s “right hand woman” – as his successor.

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