One of the fashion industry's most iconic designers, Karl Lagerfeld, has reportedly passed away early Tuesday in Paris, according to the House of Karl Lagerfeld. He was 85 years old.
Lagerfeld has not only served as Chanel's creative director since 1983, he also led Fendi since 1977, and ran his eponymous fashion line since 1984.
In the fast-evolving world of fashion, a tenure as long as Lagerfeld's at two storied design houses is unprecedented.
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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.
The German-born couturier was held in high regard within the fashion world for his work in reviving Chanel after it lost its credibility.
In a 2007 interview with The New Yorker, Lagerfeld revealed that he was warned not to take the job at Chanel because "nobody cared" about the brand anymore. However, that only challenged him to prove them wrong.
"Everybody said, ‘Don’t touch it, it’s dead, it will never come back,’" he recalled. "But by then I thought it was a challenge."
He brought the legendary label, which was founded by Coco Chanel, into modern times by changing the designs and runway show formats, featuring unique, and sometimes controversial, themes, as well as a diverse group of supermodels.
Lagerfeld's impact was not only limited to the world of couture, his collaborations with high street brands, especially H&M, has inspired a trend that continues to dominate the retail industry today.
In addition to design, Lagerfeld, who was known for his trademark dark suits, pony-tail and tinted sunglasses, also made his mark as a photographer and video director.
He created advertising campaigns for the brands he worked for and personally photographed his muses, including top models and actresses like Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Claudia Schiffer, and Penelope Cruz.
Lagerfeld credits his success to his failure to ever be satisfied by his work.
“I am never pleased,” Lagerfeld told WWD in 2017. “I always think I could do better. I think I am lazy; I think I could make an effort. And that’s why I can go ahead. If you are pleased with what you did, that’s very, very bad.”
Like Coco Chanel, Lagerfeld believed in designing until the end and that's exactly what he did.
Although he did design the last Chanel Paris Haute Couture Show, Lagerfeld did not take a bow at the end. He was reportedly "feeling tired," and "asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him and greet the guests alongside the bride."
The sudden downturn in his health also forced him to miss a number of fashion shows recently. It's unclear if the illness he was suffering from led to his demise as the enigmatic designer's cause of death has not been revealed.