Karl Lagerfeld, fashion icon and creative director of Chanel reportedly died in Paris today. The influential German designer was 85, and was best known for his work with the French luxury fashion house. He was also the creative director at Fendi and even had his eponymous label.
Rumours about his ill health had been swirling around for a while now; and were fuelled even further when he missed the Haute Couture spring/summer 2019 in January this year. At the time, Chanel attributed his absence to "tiredness."
“For the traditional greeting at the end of the show, Mr. Lagerfeld, artistic director of Chanel, who was feeling tired, asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him and greet the guests alongside the bride,” Chanel reportedly said in a statement.
“Virginie Viard as creative studio director and Eric Pfrunder as Chanel’s director of image continue to work with him and follow through with the brand’s collections and image campaigns,” the houses added, at the time.
Barely a month after the show, the news of his death has sent shock waves across the industry.
Fashion Industry Moans The Death Of Karl Lagerfeld
Sharing the news of his demise, the House of Karl Lagerfeld shared an emotional bon voyage on the designer's official Instagram page.
"The House of KARL LAGERFELD shares, with deep emotion and sadness, the passing of its creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, on February 19, 2019, in Paris, France. He was one of the most influential and celebrated designers of the 21st century and an iconic, universal symbol of style," the post said.
Adding, "Driven by a phenomenal sense of creativity, Karl was passionate, powerful and intensely curious. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy as one of the greatest designers of our time, and there are no words to express how much he will be missed."
Chanel's top management spent no time in coming out to express their despair and sadness as well.
“Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the house of Chanel’s success throughout the world," Chanel chief executive officer, Alain Wertheimer told Vogue.
"Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early '80s to reinvent the brand," Wertheimer added.
He has now entrusted Viard with all the creative work for the collections, “so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on," Wertheimer shared.
Many other prominent names from the industry came out to express their sadness.
In an Instagram post, Donatella Versace, vice president of the Versace Group, wrote: "Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you (sic)."
While British designer Victoria Beckham shared: "So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP (emoticon) x vb (sic)"
Caroline Rush, who is the chief executive of the British Fashion Council, reportedly said: "We are deeply saddened to learn the news of Karl Lagerfeld's passing today. His unrivalled contribution to the fashion industry changed the way women dress and perceive fashion. He inspired generations of young designers and will continue to do so."
Karl Lagerfeld, An Icon And Modern Messiah Of The Fashion World
Lagerfeld was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt in 1933, in a pre-war Germany. But soon after, he changed his name to 'Lagerfeld' as he believed it was commercially better.
As a young teenager, Lagerfeld emigrated to Paris and quickly became a design assistant for Pierre Balmain. he then moves to working at Fendi and then Chloe in the 1960s.
Then in 1983, Lagarfeld joined Chanel, an association for which he is best known for, today. Post Coco Chanel's death, his designs brought a new lease of life to the label. He added a lot more glitz to the iconic tweed suits. He also worked hard to churn out collections for LVMH's Fendi as well as his own label, right till his death.
In fact, in an interview to Vogue he shared that he had a lifelong contract with the French luxury brand. "I have a lifelong [agreement] and I am enchanted. My work conditions are fabulous and don’t exist anywhere else," he shared.
The fashion visionary who was never seen without his pony-tailed silver locks, dark glasses and fingerless gloves was always ahead of his time. He once said of his appearance: "I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that."
Unfortunately today, the fashion world has lost one of its brightest stars.
As Edward Enninful, British Vogue's editor-in-chief said, "He had a very no-nonsense approach to life. I frequently left our meetings feeling I had learnt so much about art, history, politics and fashion. The world has lost an icon."