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Karl Lagerfeld, the creative fashion designer who turned around the fortunes of Chanel and Fendi, has passed away on 19th February at the age of 85 in Paris.
He was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt in pre-war Germany in the 1930s. He changed his original surname from Lagerfeldt, because he believed it sounded “more commercial”. During his teenage years, Karl emigrated to Paris and became a design assistant for Pierre Balmain, before working at Fendi and Chloe in the 1960s.
Best known for his association with the French label Chanel, he began his long career with the fashion brand in 1983, a decade after Coco Chanel died. Lagerfeld’s designs brought new life to the label, adding glitz to the prim tweed suits the couture house was known for.
Lagerfeld worked up until his death as an artistic and creative director of fashion houses Chanel and Fendi, two of the most luxury brands in the world, as well as producing his own label collections each season.
Described as an “incredible talent and endless inspiration”, he was celebrated for his personal style and his cutting comments about those he considered fat or unfashionable, as for the clothes he created, always completing his look with a white ponytail, black sunglasses and a pair of white gloves. Renowned for his insatiable work ethic over a seven-decade career in fashion and recognized for being a design inspiration, Karl Lagerfeld made the biggest impact at Chanel, one of the most famous French fashion brands, by reinterpreting the fashion house’s famous tweed each season.
His catwalk shows at Chanel were always extravagant, often costing millions of pounds: Lagerfeld often courted controversy. During his artistic career, he transformed the fortunes of Chanel, one of the leading names in high fashion, but his work also filtered down to the high street. Away from his work, Lagerfeld made headlines for a range of provocative, and sometimes offensive, statements. Lagerfeld was known to encourage new designers, like Victoria Beckham, and he also collaborated with high street brand H&M, before high-end collaborations became more common.
The iconic fashion designer is believed to have been unwell for two weeks before his death in a Paris hospital. According to sources close to him, Lagerfeld was rushed to hospital on Monday while suffering from pancreatic cancer.
As one of the industry’s most inexhaustible figures, he worked up until his death. The iconic Karl Lagerfeld has died aged 85 after a cancer battle.