Noted for his dominant influence over the fashion industry for more than four decades, iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has passed away.
His namesake company—along with the House of Chanel—has confirmed that on Tuesday, February 19, 2019, Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85. The news was shared via the label’s Instagram page:
“The House of KARL LAGERFELD shares, with deep emotion and sadness, the passing of its creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, on February 19, 2019, in Paris, France. He was one of the most influential and celebrated designers of the 21st century and an iconic, universal symbol of style. Driven by a phenomenal sense of creativity, Karl was passionate, powerful and intensely curious. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy as one of the greatest designers of our time, and there are no words to express how much he will be missed.”
Lagerfeld was the creative director of Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous brand, and he also designed for the house of Chloé (early in his career). A champion of diversity, he often cast Black models in his runway shows and advertising campaigns. And most recently, his acclaimed fashion show at New York’s Metropolitan Museum paid homage to Ancient Egypt and featured Pharrell Williams and Alton Mason—the first Black male model to walk a Chanel show—onstage.
During his reign atop the fashion world, Lagerfeld’s designs have amassed a celebrity cult following with support from Rihanna, Future, Beyoncé, Lil Kim and others, and today, tons of the fashion industry’s key players and his close friends—including Edward Enninful, Joan Smalls, Naomi Campbell, Pharrell Williams and more—have shown an outpouring of love and remembrance, thanking the designer for his prolific aesthetic and unmatched design direction.
“Karl… too many memories to write… I THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! For taking the chance on 16-year-old girl from South London and opening my eyes. May you Rest with Highest.”
“My heart is broken, this is the last photo shoot I had with this brilliant, hardworking and passionate individual that gave me so much inspiration that so much was possible. You will be missed… como tengo el corazón partido, Gracias por todos los momentos.”
The House of Chanel’s official statement:
“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.
An extraordinary creative individual, Karl Lagerfeld reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the CHANEL jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry. Regarding Gabrielle Chanel, he said, “My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done. The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.” A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films. The House of CHANEL benefited from his talent for all the branding campaigns related to Fashion since 1987. Finally, one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery.
Alain Wertheimer, CEO of CHANEL, said: “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.” Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion at CHANEL, said: “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’.” Virginie Viard, Director of CHANEL’s Fashion Creation Studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on.”