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08 December 2011

Karl Lagerfeld, Le Web + Fashion as the Ultimate User Experience

Photo: TechCrunch EU

Karl Lagerfeld opened Le Web yesterday morning, in part to announce the launch of a new online fashion brand, Karl, which he's producing in partnership with founder Natalie Massenet of Net-A-Porter. It goes live in January.

According to Massenet, the collection will be about "accessibility". I gathered this referred to it being online (free of geographical limitations) and more cost-feasible for shoppers. (I wouldn't expect Isaac Mizrahi for Target prices though.) This is a nice manifestation of something Lagerfeld said about social networks just prior: being over-connected doesn't make you well-connected. 

This is easy to forget when you consider how "accessible" everyone is today. But Lagerfeld is playing with the ways in which technology can draw global crowds, ignite creativity and facilitate work. 

While paper remains his favourite creative tool, many of his designs are now produced on drawing apps for iPad. He demonstrated by using his iPad to sketch a portrait of Steve Jobs onstage:

The conversation didn't go into much detail about the impact of design on usability, or how today's simple and elegant interface aesthetics speak to how function informs timelessness. Some even wondered why Lagerfeld was there at all.

"He's the #1 design expert in the world right now," observed venture capitalist Michael Jackson at a cocktail party later that night. "Entrepreneurs should be soaking in everything he says. What Karl Lagerfeld understands is that fashion is the ultimate user experience."

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