Karl Lagerfeld’s influence in the fashion realm is incomparable.
The designer, who died today at age 85, was near-synonymous with Chanel, working also for Fendi and his eponymous brand. But apart from his design, Lagerfeld also developed a mystique around himself — becoming known for his signature sunglasses, his obsession with Diet Coke and his off-color quotes about style and pop culture.
Of course, his curated image took a while to develop — and early images of Lagerfeld often show him sans opaque shades.
Lagerfeld’s career in fashion began in 1965, when the young West German was hired by French label Chloe. He became creative director of Fendi, a title he held ever since, the same year. Minus an eight-year absence in the ’80s, Lagerfeld worked with Chloe until 1992, crafting a reputation for designs that didn’t take themselves too seriously and runway shows that never failed to entertain.
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The fashion legend became creative director of Chanel in 1983, where he turned the French brand into a massive entity with billions of dollars in annual revenue.
Lagerfeld was known for his ability to find muses throughout his career — from big name supermodels like Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista during the ’90s to current famous faces like Cara Delevingne, Kendall Jenner and Kristen Stewart.
While Lagerfeld’s eponymous label never gained as much notoriety as Chanel and Fendi, he undoubtedly turned his likeness into a selling point. The icon published a 2002 book titled “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet” about how he lost 92 pounds. He worked also as a photographer, taking editorial images for publications like Harper’s Bazaar and V, as well as snapping campaign photos for the houses he directed.
The Karl Lagerfeld brand garnered recent buzz with his Karl x Kaia capsule collection, designed in collaboration with 17-year-old supermodel Kaia Gerber.
Illness prevented the fashion stalwart from attending his most recent couture show for Chanel, and his final appearance at a runway show for the label came in December, when he took his bow alongside successor Virginie Viard at the Métiers d’Art show.
Click through the gallery to see more images of the legendary designer over the years.
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