Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel Creative Director and Designer, Dead at 85
By Rachel McRady
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Karl Lagerfeld, the iconic German designer and creative director of brands such as Chanel and Fendi, has died at the age of 85, a Chanel spokesperson confirms to ET.
"It is with deep sadness that the House of Chanel announces the passing of Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director for the Chanel fashion house since 1983," Chanel's statement reads in part. "...The House of Chanel offers his family, relatives and friends its deepest condolences."
The news comes after Lagerfeld missed Chanel’s haute couture show in Paris last month. He was last seen publicly in December at the Chanel show at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art.
According to Chanel's statement, Virginie Viard, director of Chanel’s fashion creation studio and Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, "has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer, [CEO of Chanel] with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on."
"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," Wertheimer says 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."
Serge Brunschwig, Fendi chairman and CEO, also released a statement to ET following news of Lagerfeld's death. “Working with Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi allowed me to catch a glimpse of the secret of the continuous renewal of the House. I profoundly admire Karl’s immense culture, his ability to rejuvenate at all times, to taste all the arts, to not overlook any style, along with a persistent refusal to turn to his past, to look at his work in a mirror," reads the statement. "He was restless and his exigent nature would never leave him. The show was just ending that Karlwould always say, 'And now number next!' He leaves us an enormous heritage, an inexhaustible source of inspiration to continue. Karl will be immensely missed by myself and all the Fendi people."
Lagerfeld was known for his signature black suit, sunglasses, and long white ponytail and beard. He also was regularly seen carrying his cat, Choupette. He is noted to have said of his appearance, "I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that."
The designer was born in 1933 in pre-war Germany and started his career as an assistant to Pierre Balmain in 1955 when he moved to Paris as a teenager. He joined Chanel in 1983, after Coco Chanel died. In addition to his work as the creative director of Chanel and Fendi, Lagerfeld also had his own label and collaborated with H&M.
He had a long term relationship with Jacques de Bascher until his death in 1989 from AIDS.