LIFE

Legendary Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dies At 85

by Andrea Wunderlich
Andrea is a LittleThings Editorial Intern who has a passion for all things internet; she enjoys books, coffee, and pugs!

Karl Lagerfeld, the world-renowned Fendi and Chanel designer, has died at the age of 85.

Chanel announced news of his death Tuesday morning in Paris.

Rumors had previously circulated about his ill health after he missed the Chanel spring 2019 haute couture show in January, due to what the brand called “tiredness.” There is currently no confirmed cause of death.

“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 said in its statement. “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.'”

Karl Otto Lagerfeld was born September 10, 1933, in Hamburg, Germany, to parents Otto Lagerfeld and Elisabeth Bahlmann. He attended the Lycée Montaigne in Paris, where he majored in drawing and history.

After winning a competition for coat designs, Karl took a job as the assistant to French designer Pierre Balmain in 1955. He went on to work in fashion houses such as Jean Patou and Tiziani, though the lines he designed there did not enjoy much success.

In the mid-1960s, Karl took on more promising projects with Fendi and Chloé, which became one of the more symbolic brands of the 1970s as a result. From there, he began to gain traction and fame.

For decades, Karl remained a top name and familiar face in the fashion world. He spent decades as the head designer and creative director for Fendi as well as Chanel. Throughout, he was known for his signature look: black sunglasses, a full head of white hair, and matching high collar.

Karl’s latter career was marked by collaborations with less-high-end brands like Diesel and H&M. He also worked as a photographer, capturing his own lines and producing Visionaire 23: The Emperor’s New Clothes, a series of nude pictures of models and celebrities.

His collaborations also included ventures in entertainment. He starred in the French reality show Signé Chanel and even voiced a radio DJ in the popular video game Grand Theft Auto IV.

Karl had remained in a relationship with partner Jacques de Bascher from the early ’70s until Jacques’ death in 1989. Late in life, Karl joked that he would have married his red point Birman cat, Choupette, if he could.

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