Karl Lagerfeld, the famed German fashion designer and artistic director for Chanel, Fendi and his own eponymous label, has died at age 85. The French outlet Purepeople was the first to break the news, reporting that Lagerfeld died Tuesday morning after being rushed to the American Hospital of Paris Monday night.
The designer’s namesake label confirmed the sad news, calling him “one of the most influential and celebrated designers of the 21st century and an iconic, universal symbol of style.”
Chanel also shared its “sadness” over its creative director’s passing, and announced that longtime Lagerfeld collaborator Virginie Viard will carry on his work at the label.
“An extraordinary creative individual, Karl Lagerfeld reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the Chanel jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry,” a statement from the fashion house reads. “Regarding Gabrielle Chanel, he said, ‘My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done. The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.’
“A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films,” it continues. “The House of Chanel benefited from his talent for all the branding campaigns related to fashion since 1987. Finally, one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery.”
Lagerfeld’s death comes just weeks after he was notably absent from Chanel’s couture shows in Paris on Jan. 22. Chanel issued a statement at the time explaining that the designer was “tired.”
Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1933, Lagerfeld joined Chanel in 1983 and is credited with breathing new life into the French label with his larger-than-life runway spectacles and repurposing of the interlocking double-C logo. His illustrious career also included stints at Jean Patou, Chloé and Hogan, and a design relationship with Fendi that spanned more than five decades. He collaborated with H&M in 2004 and also oversaw his own Karl Lagerfeld line.
Lagerfeld’s image — he was faithful to his white ponytail, sunglasses and black suits with cravats and fingerless gloves, and famously drank Diet Coke out of crystal goblets — is as well-known as his designs. He was also famously outspoken and caused controversy for making cutting remarks about the appearances of several high-profile women.
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