German haute couture designer Karl Lagerfeld, creative director at Chanel and an icon of the global fashion industry for over half a century, has died, the French fashion house said Feb. 19. He was 85.
Lagerfeld, instantly recognizable in his dark suits, ponytailed white hair and sunglasses, was best known for his association with Chanel but delivered collections for LVMH’s Fendi and his own eponymous label.
Rumors of Lagerfeld’s ill health had swirled after he missed Chanel’s January show in Paris.
“We have lost a creative genius who helped to make Paris the fashion capital of the world and Fendi one of the most innovative Italian houses,” LVMH chairman and chief executive Bernard Arnault said in a statement.
A true craftsman who combined artistic instinct, business acumen and commensurate ego, Lagerfeld was known for his strikingly visual fashion show displays and extravagant outfits.
Born in Hamburg in 1933, Lagerfeld made his debut with designer Pierre Balmain as an apprentice before moving on to Patou and Chloe and then Italian brand Fendi. He gained rock-star status after he joined Chanel in 1983.
He earned the nicknames “Kaiser Karl” and “Fashion Meister.” (Reuters)