One year after his death, legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld is still stirring up controversy.
It all started with a collaboration destined for the seemingly innocent sphere of the DIY knitting world. Before he died in 2019, the creative chief of Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld Paris was working with The Woolmark Company — the Australian textile organization that awarded a young Lagerfeld its inaugural Woolmark Prize in 1954, setting him up for future stardom — to develop a do-it-yourself kit called “Knit Karl.”
The elegant kit would be packed with everything a person needed to whip up one of four Lagerfeld-designed unisex patterns: a cable-knit sweater, a beanie, a headband or a scarf. Its bento-box-like compartments would include balls of squishy black merino yarn, two pairs of knitting needles and several enamel pins, including one of a cartoon sheep wearing the Kaiser’s signature sunglasses. Another would say, in bubbly black-and-white letters,”Wool is the New Cool,” a nod to Lagerfeld’s observations of models, such as Cara Delevingne, knitting backstage.
“Lagerfeld was involved in the project from ideation through to complete prototype,” Stuart McCullough, Woolmark’s managing director, tells Fashionista in an email.
In February, Woolmark and the Karl Lagerfeld brand announced they were giving away 777 limited-edition Knit Karl kits in a digital scavenger hunt that would run from Feb. 7 to March 7. (Seven was Lagerfeld’s favorite number.) Participants could scour the real and digital worlds for codes, entering them into the website knitkarl.com for a shot at winning a box. On the day of its launch, the website crashed due to overwhelming demand, but apart from frustrated comments left on social media, response was by and large laudatory.
Until it wasn’t.