I Shopped Karl Lagerfeld’s Line

Karl Lagerfeld was one of my few ‘roses’ in my summer 2021 Rose, Bud, Thorn game.

I was living in College Town with two friends. One of which was struggling with family problems the entire summer and when she would turn to me for help, I had no idea what to say. It absolutely terrified me. The other had just graduated and was starting her post-graduation, full-time job in the same city she went to college. She would come home from work and tell me about the year-long lease she just signed on a house, and how her parents were advising her not to take time off to travel in the first year. It absolutely terrified me.

So most of the time I spent alone, but not necessarily in peace. I was working an internship in project management consulting which I enjoyed. Ever so often, though, I would think to myself, “how would I feel if this was my full-time job with no end in sight?” and then I didn’t enjoy it so much. In my time outside of the internship I was at the library studying LBOs, DCFs, how to value companies, accounting, and everything else you need to know to Break Into Wall Street, and doing every single CraftingCases and McKinsey case study I could find. That last sentence was written to impress all of my LinkedIn connections, and is everyone else’s nightmare. So when I think back on memories of my summer, most of what I remember is sitting in front of my computer with my head in my hands.

To be honest, I really only had one hour of complete peace each day this summer. That was when I put on my headphones, laced up my running shoes, and hit the pavement. My neighbors who saw me go out at the same time every day probably thought I was a running fanatic when in reality, I just wanted to listen to podcasts but don’t have the attention span to just listen to podcasts. So I ran, and I listened to podcasts on Karl Lagerfeld.

I’m not sure how I came across Lagerfeld, but I do remember opening up Spotify, typing in his name, and pressing “Podcast Episodes” to hear what everyone had to say about him. The appeal was obvious – everyone in the fashion world knew him, and they knew him for being a creative genius. At that point, nobody knew me for being creative, just for being the girl who could get tasks done super quickly and was well-versed in Excel. I’ve also always had this draw towards not just being known but being well known. I think it comes from not being able to just half-heartedly do something, I always let it absolutely consume me. So I have the same view when it comes to other people’s opinions of me. They cannot be mild, they have to be absolutely consuming.

I also determined over the summer, synonymously with studying 20 hours a week for investment banking and consulting, that I wanted to work in the fashion industry. This dream did nothing but add to my ever-growing anxiety. Fashion is super hard to break into for anyone, but especially an economics major living in Oklahoma. I also had never worked in fashion before, and couldn’t allow myself a summer internship because if I hated fashion, I had just lost an integral summer I should have been at a bank.

So for that one hour out of my day, I would run and pretend like I was one of the photographers Lagerfeld was talking about. Think about how ecstatic I would be if people talked about me as they talk about him. I would daydream about what my life would be like if I worked in the fashion industry, and I’d let my mind wander to different photoshoots I would do and videos I would make. And for that euphoric hour every day, I would envision my life on a parallel course to the one I was on now.

It’s fall now and the leaves are changing colors in the park that I run through listening to music. My life in Madrid is more rhythmic and I have completely forgotten about my podcast-induced runs. I have more friends, more balance, and less solo finance studying. My time outside of school was spent sightseeing or spending time with friends… until a little video I made in my living room went viral. And somehow, I found myself working for a fashion magazine.

I went in with the mindset I would say yes to everything, and would not let them get rid of me until my visa ran out in December and the government pushed me out of Spain. So when the Director of Fashion invited me to go shopping with him, despite my absolute lack of experience (none), I was beyond excited to say yes. I put on a long sleeve dress I had bought at my favorite thrift store before stepping out that crisp October morning to meet Hilario at the first showroom.

Outside, there was a big metallic sign that read “Fashion House of Madrid”, which I stopped in my tracks to take a picture of. Maybe I looked like a little kid, eager to share their accomplishments in the family group chat– but that’s exactly what I was. Upon entering, we were met with three women and a man, all of who looked as if they were hatched from a perfect golden egg instead of birthed like the rest of us. Perfect makeup, perfect outfit, and I bet they didn’t even get nervous while leaning in to Spanish-kiss each other hello (I’m still getting used to that).

I was told that all of the clothes on the racks were free game to take. Since it was a classic photoshoot, I first went for the racks of black and white clothing. My plan was to get a base before throwing in a colorful coat or neon shoes. However, what I did not expect as I began rifling through the racks, is that the brand I had just made a beeline for was Karl Lagerfeld’s last line before he died.

I stared at the neckline on the black, men’s, button-up shirt that read “KARL LAGERFELD” in bold, white letters, and visions from my podcast runs came flooding back to me. For so long after leaving College Town, I hadn’t thought back to my summer because it was such a strange period of studying and helping friends that I didn’t necessarily want to remember. Although I continued to be interested in fashion, upon arriving in Madrid it was no longer at the forefront of my mind. I realized that even though I had done an entire photoshoot with a fashion magazine, it never hit me that I was living in Summer 2021 Calihan’s escapist daydream.

I was photographing actresses on the streets of Madrid, I was making small talk with fashion influencers while eating muffins, and I was currently standing in the Madrid Fashion House. There was no other time in my life when something like this could have happened. In College Town, there is no fashion scene which means I’d have to take a summer to work in fashion. An event, as said before, might be detrimental to my career in a more technical field. Even if I did decide to take a summer, it would most likely be in New York City or Los Angeles with insanely high rent and no friends.

The weird thing though is that part of me is still striving for those consulting and banking roles. They’re self-explanatory, follow a certain prototype that a creative job wouldn’t, and provides a certain kind of respect and security. Although I hated spending my summer studying, I admittedly still like doing the work. Economics and finance make sense to me, and I love being able to mobilize that proclivity.

Whenever I see a woman wearing heels and a blazer while walking the streets, I imagine myself in the same clothes walking home from my corporate job in New York City. The respect that comes with a big name, and that feeling you get when solving cases that you’re using your entire brain, the technical and creative parts, to figure out the solution. Maybe my problem isn’t that I don’t know what I want to do in the future, maybe the problem is I’m constantly imagining my life in these idealistic ways, no matter which industry I choose to enter. Maybe I just need to get out of my head, apparently, Hilario thinks so as well.

“What did you find?” I hear him ask from right behind me. For a few minutes, it’s as if I wasn’t even in the showroom, I was back in College Town, running up a certain hill in my neighborhood, imagining the life I’m living right now. I didn’t even hear him come up behind me, but his voice completely knocked me out of my daydream.

“Still looking, I’m just a big fan of Karl Lagerfeld,” I respond, and continue to flip through the shirts.“Who isn’t?” He responds and just as I used to on my runs, I once again let myself slip back into my idealistic daydreams. One day, I hope people say that about me.

Yours truly,



2 responses to “I Shopped Karl Lagerfeld’s Line”

  1. […] what shopping for a magazine photoshoot is like. From Prade to Kate Spade to the entirety of the Karl Lagerfield line. If I saw a piece of clothing that fit the photoshoot mood board, I just took it off the racks and […]


  2. […] –I Shopped Karl Lagerfeld’s Line […]


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