Like all things related to designer Karl Lagerfeld, the launch of his Karl by Karl Lagerfeld collection, which launched exclusively on Net-a-Porter today, has played out as a larger-than-life global event with pop-up store windows debuting in Sydney, Berlin, Paris, London and New York City to celebrate the line. (We were on line in New York this morning, where more than 60 shoppers braved the cold.)
Despite the global nature of the launch, the launch went off pretty much without a hitch: Inventory from the collection hit Net-a-Porter at the same time, 10:30 a.m. ET, across all markets, and while some customers complained via Twitter of dropped connections while trying to access the site, the vast majority seemed able to get online and shop. Net-a-Porter has said it took extra precautions to prevent server overload, learning a lesson from the Missoni for Target launch, which crashed Target.com’s server, angering eager shoppers in the process. (After a month on Net-a-Porter, a Karl Lagerfeld-branded e-commerce site will launch.)
Pop-up windows in each of the five cities were apparently unique, with the biggest spectacle happening in Paris, where a clear cube structure in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood was surrounded by models wearing the collection and holding black Karl Lagerfeld balloons. Lagerfeld, whose appearance at the Paris pop-up window incited the crowd to let out a collective scream, told reporters, "We are making fashion and technology history." Net-a-Porter CEO Natalie Massenet, in the crowd, said of Lagerfeld, "Karl is the greatest living designer."
The 70-piece collection includes everything from sequin shorts to metallic cocktail frocks. While the range is predominantly black, there are touches of color, including a pink motorcycle jacket. Most pieces in the collection are the $200 to $300 range, making the collection far less expensive than Chanel, but not exactly bargain basement either. By late afternoon following the launch, quite a few pieces have already sold out: two dresses in the $250 range (one silver and one black with a white collar); a stretch vest for $135; a printed canvas shopper featuring Lagerfeld’s face, selling for $25; buckle sandals for $445; a $185 terry sweater with PVC sleeves; and cutaway leather gloves for $65. Plenty of sizes of the two-toned biker vest selling for $675 and silver-sprayed skinny jeans remain available.
The launch of Karl by Karl Lagerfeld also happens to coincide with the re-launch of Lagerfeld’s more expensive namesake line, Karl Lagerfeld Paris, which has been on hiatus since 2010. That line initially launched in 1984, a year after Lagerfeld joined Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld Paris will be distributed and produced under license by Ittierre and will bow in the fall. Private equity firm Apax Partners, which owns the Karl Lagerfeld brand, is definitely betting big on the two lines, hoping that Lagerfeld's star power will translate into big sales numbers.