Karl Lagerfeld’s Wittiest, Most Iconic, and Most Outrageous Quotes of All Time

Karl Lagerfeld was one of a kind in every facet of life. Inimitable, witty, and often outrageous, the designer’s legacy spanned well beyond the exquisite collections he created for the world’s top fashion houses. With quips like, “sweatpants are a sign of defeat,” and “trendy is the last stage before tacky,” Lagerfeld became just as known for his outspoken opinions as his designs over the years.

As the fashion world mourns the loss of an icon, we’re taking a look back at his most memorable quotes of all time. The genius, the cheeky, and the oh, so Karl.

On fashion and style:

  • “Don’t dress to kill, dress to survive.”
  • “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
  • “Trendy is the last stage before tacky.”
  • “I am a fashion person, and fashion is not only about clothes—it’s about all kinds of change.”
  • “Never use the word ‘cheap.’ Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a T-shirt and jeans—it’s up to you.”

Getty Images

  • “Chic is a kind of mayonnaise, either it tastes, or it doesn’t.”
  • “Don’t use expensive clothes as a screen for your personal doubts. Be proud of yourself and not only because you wear expensive designer clothes. They are great, but lots of people are happy without them.”
See also
A Tribute to Azzedine Alaïa

On his own persona:

  • “I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.”
  • “I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth.”

Karl Lagerfeld and his beloved cat, Choupette. Karl Lagerfeld for Harper’s BAZAAR

On luxury:

  • “Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress.”
  • “Luxury bags make your life more pleasant, make you dream, give you confidence, and show your neighbors you’re doing well.”

On humor:

  • “A sense of humor and a little lack of respect: that’s what you need to make a legend survive.”
  • “Everything I say is a joke. I am a joke of myself.”

On good conversation:

  • “I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion.”
  • “I’m not crazy to discuss fashion with men. I couldn’t care less about their opinion.”
See also
Donatella Versace Will No Longer Use Fur

On the importance of looking your best at all times:

  • “I’m very impeccable and clean before I go to bed. When I was a child, my mother always told me that you could wake up in the middle of the night and be deathly sick, so you always have to be impeccable. I laugh about it now, but I think everyone should go to bed like they have a date at the door.”

On spending money:

  • “If you throw money out of the window, throw it out with joy. Don’t say: ‘one shouldn’t do that’—that is bourgeois.”

Stella Tennant, Karl Lagerfeld, and Iman in 1996. Getty Images

On beauty:

  • “Life is not a beauty contest, some [ugly people] are great. What I hate is nasty, ugly people…the worst is ugly, short men. Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life…they are mean and they want to kill you.”
See also
Best Dressed Men at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards

On selfies:

  • “They are this horrible thing where you are distorted. The chin is too big, the head is too small. It is electronic masturbation.”

On moving forward:

  • “Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step.”

On his legacy:

  • “I’ve always known that I was made to live this way, that I would be this sort of legend.”

From: Harper’s BAZAAR US