Karl Lagerfeld (born Karl Lagerfeldt) is a German-born artist and fashion designer now based in Paris. Famously elusive about the details of his personal life, he is believed to have been born in the 1930s. His fashion career got off to a prestigious start in 1955 when he was awarded an apprenticeship at Pierre Balmain. He moved on to Jean Patou just three years later, and remained there for five years, designing two haute couture collections each year. His early designs were controversial for their low necklines, low backs and short skirts. Poorly received by critics, the collections nonetheless made a name for Lagerfeld and allowed him to begin working as a freelance designer for such varied houses as Tiziana, Chloe, Curiel and Fendi. In 1983, he took over as creative director for Chanel, where he remains today.