Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died, aged 85. The German-born, creative director of Chanel had reportedly been suffering ill health over the past few weeks, although no official cause of death has been revealed.
French magazine Closer broke the news of Lagerfeld’s death. Sources at Chanel have confirmed the news.
The designer missed two Chanel catwalk shows in late January. However, at the time the company said it was due to tiredness.
It was the first time he had ever missed a Chanel catwalk show since taking over the helm in 1983.
Career and controversy
Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in 1933: the son of a businessman and former lingerie saleswoman. He undertook his secondary schooling in Paris, after which he took up a job as an apprenticeship with the designer Pierre Balmain.
He designed his first haute couture collection, for Jean Patou, in 1958.
Lagerfeld built a name for himself during the 1960s, working extensively with Chloe and Curiel. He also began to collaborate with the Italian fashion house, Fendi.
Lagerfeld was appointed creative director for Chanel in 1983, which is when he truly became a global fashion brand. Instantly recognizable, he became as known for his trademark silver hair, ponytail, sunglasses, large white shirt collars and leather gloves as his clothing and accessory designs.
His career was also not without controversies. He was a frequent target of animal rights groups such as PETA for his use of fur in his designs. He also had to apologize after using a verse from the Qur’an in his spring 1994 couture collection for Chanel.
Dubbed ‘Kaiser Karl’ and ‘Fashion Meister’, he was also known for the occasional his bitchy remarks.
In 2012, he said of the singer Adele, ‘She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.’
Once asked his views on Russia, the designer said, ‘If I was a woman in Russia I would be a lesbian, as the men are very ugly.’
He also looked down upon those who made little effort with their attire: ‘Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.’
More recently, he was criticized for his response to the #MeToo movement after saying: ‘If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model!’
‘Elegance is an attitude’
However, he was also known for his craftmanship and vision. He was an accomplished artist, continuing to hand-draw his own designs until late in life, and photographer.
‘Elegance is an attitude,’ is one Lagerfeld quote that fans will fondly remember him for.
Among the first to pay tribute to Lagerfeld is Donatella Versace. The Italian designer posted a photo of her with Lagerfeld and a message: ‘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.’