The world of fashion has lost one of their greats – with the sad news that Karl Lagerfeld has passed away at 85. The creative director of Chanel died on February 19 in Paris, the French fashion house has confirmed. "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," Chanel's CEO, Alain Wertheimer, said in a statement. "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."
Concern over his health had already been forthcoming from his peers after he was a no-show at Chanel's Spring-Summer Haute Couture show in Paris at the end of last month - the first time in over 36 years he has missed a presentation. At the time WWD claimed that the designer did not attend because he was tired, while a spokesperson for the Karl Lagerfeld fashion line said that the company wished him a "quick recovery from his bad cold."
Although it's widely known that he was born in the 1930s, the exact year remains a mystery. However, what is in no doubt is that the Kaiser of fashion, as he was known, will be remembered as one of the most innovative, iconic designers of all time. He was admired by his contemporaries and recognized the world over for his white hair, black sunglasses, fingerless gloves, and high starched collars.
Born Karl Otto Lagerfeld prior to World War II on September 10 1933 in Hamburg, Germany, Karl began his career in fashion as the assistant to Pierre Balmain after winning a design competition in 1955. He was widely known to misrepresent both his birth year and his parents' background, claiming to be several years younger than he actually was and have Swedish ancestry on his fathers' side - of which no evidence was found.
After releasing collections with Jean Patou, Chloé and Fendi throughout his early career, Karl soon reached international fame, and collaborated with Diesel and H&M among countless others. He joined Chanel in 1983 and spent 36 years at the helm of the iconic French fashion house and he also headed up Fendi and his own namesake label during his prolific career. Meanwhile, his many celebrity muses included the likes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, Diane Kruger and Penelope Cruz.
"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," Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel said after news of Karl's passing was confirmed. "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."