From Madonna to Manhattan, the late 1980s were all about Vogue. In 1983, Karl Lagerfeld took over as creative director for the then-struggling Chanel, with the legendary French haute couture house launching its ‘Empire Line’ in 87. That year, Cindy Crawford featured on the Vogue UK cover in Chanel’s iconic navy… and the larger-than-life German designer was snapped alongside Malta’s own fashion icon.
In a nostalgic post shared on Facebook yesterday, the Maltese trans cabaret dancer and LGBTQ+ rights trailblazer can be seen resting on the shoulder of Karl Lagerfeld as they exit a show together. It turns out the snap had been published on Vogue UK back in January 1987, bang in the middle of both Katya (or Kaka, as people knew her) and Karl’s prime.
“When a pap shot becomes poignant,” the post emotionally explained.
Katya Saunder’s death at 61 left the island’s LGBTQ+ community in shock 24 days ago. Since her death, prominent personalities in the fashion community have opened up about her legacy, lamenting how one of the brightest lights in Malta had been extinguished.
“Katya was a very special and unique icon to the LGBTQ community,” popular Maltese fashion designer Charles van Maarschalkerweerd Borg (of Charles & Ron fame) had said of his old friend. “She had the courage to be herself way back when it was still very difficult and dangerous to do so. Her sense of style and elegance was unparalleled and she was our muse for several years and always of great inspiration until today and always will be.”
Then, a mere 22 days later, 85-year-old Karl Lagerfeld passed away in Paris this Tuesday, rocking the global fashion community to its core.
The German creative director, designer, artist and photographer is best known for his 36-year legacy with Chanel, but he was also the creative director of the Italian fur and leather fashion house Fendi… along with his own eponymous fashion label, which he had said he established to channel “intellectual sexiness”.
“Gianni Versace once said to me, ‘There are only two designers that I admire, maybe even envy’,” Forbes fashion contributor Hal Rubenstein wrote earlier this week. “‘Valentino, because he knows how to live, and Karl Lagerfeld, because, well, because he is a genius’.”