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Iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dies at 85

Karl Lagerfeld has died aged 85 this Tuesday. The iconic German designer, who led Chanel for 36 years and Fendi for more than 50 years, in addition to his eponymous label, passed away in Paris following weeks of an undisclosed illness. “It is with deep sadness that the house of Chanel announces the passing of Karl Lagerfeld”, the label said in a statement.

On January 22, Lagerfeld missed Chanel’s Spring 2019 haute couture show in Paris, prompting many to speculate about the state of his health. The fashion house said he was “too tired” that morning. His collaborator of 30 years, Virginie Viard, who greated the audience at the end of the show, was announced as Lagerfeld’s successor.

“Virginie Viard, director of Chanel’s fashion creation studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by [Chanel CEO] Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on”, said Chanel. Fendi still hasn’t announced a successor for Lagerfeld.

Chanel and Fendi designer dies

Best known as “Kaiser Karl”, Lagerfeld joined Chanel as Creative Director in 1983. He also occupied the same role at Fendi for half a decade. While Lagerfeld was best known for his work as a fashion designer, he was not one to restrict his creativity to just one realm. Throughout his career, he also earned praise as a photographer and film director, having shot many of Chanel’s campaigns himself. Lagerfeld was also interested in illustration, architecture and sculpting -- his first sculpture exhibition debuted at the Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris just four months ago.

“A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films”, said Chanel, adding that “one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery”. Indeed, Lagerfeld was almost as known for his outspoken nature as he was for his art, often making headlines for his controversial quotes.

Photo: Angela Weiss / AFP

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