Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most influential and recognizable fashion designers of the 20th century, died Tuesday at the age of 85.
The German designer is best known for his work as the creative director of Chanel, the French luxury fashion house. He was a prolific designer, also at the creative helm of Fendi and his eponymous label at the time of his death.
Lagerfeld died Tuesday morning in Paris, the city he helped turn into the fashion capital of the world, his label said. Rumors had swirled about his health after he was absent from his Chanel show in late January, due to what the fashion house described as tiredness. Lagerfeld, who transformed Chanel into a global powerhouse after becoming creative director in 1983, was rarely seen without his dark glasses, a silver ponytail and fingerless gloves — gaining him the reputation as the most recognizable man in fashion, and one of its most outspoken.
“My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done,” he said of the brand’s founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. “The good thing about Chanel is it is an idea you can adapt to many things.”
“Today the world lost a giant among men,” Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue, said in a statement. “His creative genius was breathtaking and to be his friend was an exceptional gift. Karl was brilliant, he was wicked, he was funny, he was generous beyond measure, and he was deeply kind. I will miss him so very much.”
Chanel CEO Alain Wertheimer said in a statement on Tuesday that the late designer was “ahead of his time” and his “creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition” contributed to the House of Chanel’s success throughout the world.”
The head of LVMH, which owns Fendi and Louis Vuitton, said the fashion world had “lost a great inspiration.”