Design legend Karl Lagerfeld, the prolific creative force at Chanel, Fendi and his own eponymous label, has died in Paris. He was 85.
The news comes at the height of fashion month, two days before Lagerfeld’s Fendi collection is to show in Milan and a few weeks before the Chanel show. Each season, Lagerfeld owned Paris Fashion Week, wowing the entire industry with his incredibly creative Chanel shows and sets.
Lagerfeld’s personal image has been as recognizable in the industry as the aesthetic behind the fashion houses he helms.
While the designer led the creative direction at Chanel and Fendi (in addition to his namesake venture), his own signature look of a tuxedo jacket, high white collar, tie and sunglasses has proved to be highly marketable, lending him collaborations with Kaia Gerber, H&M, Diet Coke and even VIP helicopters, to name a few. Last year, Puma tapped him for a 13-piece capsule. He spent several seasons collaborating with Melissa, the plastic shoe brand.
Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion at Chanel spoke via a statement from the house: “Fashion show after fashion show, collection after collection, Karl Lagerfeld left his mark on the legend of Gabrielle Chanel and the history of the House of Chanel. He steadfastly promoted the talent and expertise of Chanel’s ateliers and Métiers d’Art, allowing this exceptional know-how to shine throughout the world. The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by – to quote Karl – ‘continuing to embrace the present and invent the future’.”
Agreed Chanel ECO Alain Wertheimer, “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. 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 1980s to reinvent the brand.”
Fendi too issued a statement from Silvia Venturini Fendi, creative director for menswear, accessories and kidswear. “I am profoundly saddened as today we have lost a unique man and an unrivalled designer, who has given so much to Fendi and to myself. I was only a child when I first saw Karl. Our relationship was very special, based on a deep and very genuine affection. We had a lot of mutual appreciation and endless respect,” she said.
“Karl Lagerfeld has been my mentor and my point of reference. A blink of an eye was enough to understand each other. For Fendi and myself, the creative genius of Karl has been and will always be our guiding light, moulding the Maison’s DNA. I will miss him deeply and always carry with me the memories of our days together.”
At the Chanel spring ‘19 couture shows in January, Lagerfeld did not appear to take his customary final bow.
The honor fell to Chanel studio director and Lagerfeld’s right hand, Virginie Viard who emerged at the end in his stead alongside the show’s swimsuit-clad bride.
At the time, the house issued a statement saying the following:
“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.”
Putting pay to rumors regarding former Celine chief, Phoebe Philo, the house of Chanel also announced today that Viard would be Karl Lagerfeld’s successor.