Fashion designer and creative director of Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld, has died.
Karl Lagerfeld, the eccentric German designer who blended fashion and art, who favored white hair, black sunglasses and 19th-century-style shirt collars, and simultaneously was creative director of French (Chanel), Italian (Fendi) and eponymous international fashion labels, has died. He was in his 80s.
One of the most celebrated, if controversial, fashion icons of the 20th and 21st centuries, Lagerfeld passed away early Tuesday, according to AP.
â€œThanks 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,” CEO Alan Wertheimer said in a release posted to the brand’s website.Â “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.â€Â
Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel’s president for fashion, added, “The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by â€“ to quote Karl â€“ â€˜continuing to embrace the present and invent the future.â€™ â€Â
The Chanel haute couture show went ahead despite the snow in Paris and the absence of Karl Lagerfeld. (Jan. 23)
Fendi’s chairman and CEOÂ Serge Brunschwig lauded Lagerfeld’s “immense culture, his ability to rejuvenate at all times, to taste all the arts, to not overlook any style” in a press release issued to USA TODAY Tuesday.Â
“He leaves us an enormous heritage, an inexhaustible source of inspiration to continue. Karl will be immensely missed by myself and all the Fendi people,â€Â Brunschwig said.
On Jan. 22, 2019,Â Lagerfeld worried fans when heÂ who hadÂ looked increasingly frail in recent seasons, did not come out to take a bow at Chanel’s couture show in Paris, whichÂ the company attributed to fatigue him being tired.Â It was is the first time in recent memory that Lagerfeld, who has designed for the house since 1983,Â did has not come out to receive applause at the end of one of his shows.
Viard, appeared in his place, emerging from the door of a lavish Italian “villa” that was the set painstakingly created by the house to showcase its spring-summer designs.
Never shy about his own genius, Lagerfeld considered himself world renowned for his “cutting-edge, aspirational and relevant approach to style,” with a fashion sensibility “rooted in a DNA thatâ€™s accessible-luxe and cool,” and a “signature aesthetic combining timeless classics with a modern, rock-chic edge,” according to his website.Â
“His visionary creativity expands beyond fashion to include illustration, photography, styling and publishing.”
“Edgy” might be a better one-word summary of Lagerfeld â€“ the man, his fashion and his art. He designed clothes that made people gasp with delight; he said things that made people gasp with shock.
At one point in 2013,Â he said he wanted to marry his closest companion â€“Â his cat,Â a white Siamese named Choupette, who has nearly 50,000 Twitter followers and an Instagram account where she frequently snarks about this and that.Â
Karl Lagerfeld’s death:Â Â Celebrities mourn the fashion icon
But that was only one of the headlines chronicling outre conduct over the years:Â He once used strippers and a porn star as models, thus annoying Anna Wintour who walked out of one of his shows in 1993.
An unapologetic supporter of fur in fashion (even though he doesn’t wear it himself), heÂ invited the wrath of People for Ethical Treatment of Animals, which tried to throw a pie at him at a New York event in 2001. They missed and hit Calvin Klein.
“AÂ fashion dinosaur who is as out of step as his furs are out of style,” sneered PETA of Lagerfeld.Â
Then there were the uproars after he called supermodel Heidi Klum “insignificant” in the fashion world because she was “too glamorous” in 2009;Â criticized singer Adele as “a little too fat” in 2012;Â and later that year dissed Pippa Middleton’s face, suggesting she only show her backside.
From the 1950s, Lagerfeld exchanged frequent public barbs with rival French designerÂ Yves Saint Laurent until the latterÂ died in 2008.Â He even got into a fracasÂ with Oscar queen Meryl Streep when he claimedÂ in 2017 thatÂ she dropped out of wearing a Chanel dress to that yearâ€™s Oscars in favor of a brand that would pay her.
“He lied,” Streep snapped indignantly.
Such was the enigma surrounding the designer that even his age was a point of mystery for decades, with reports he had two birth certificates, one dated 1933 and the other 1938.
In 2013, Lagerfeld told French magazine “Paris Match” he was born in 1935, but as of 2019, even his own assistant still didn’t know the truth. They told the Associated Press he liked “to scramble the tracks on his year of birth â€“ that’s part of the character.”
Born in Hamburg to a father whose company made evaporated milk and the daughter of a local politician, Lagerfeld migrated to Paris, where he finished his education at LycÃ©e Montaigne.
He started his career in 1954 when he won first prize in a contest to design a wool coat, a design subsequently produced by designer Pierre Balmain who offered Lagerfeld, then 17, a job as his assistant. By 1957, he was an art director for designer Jean Patou.
Lagerfeld also started his own label, Karl Lagerfeld, which though less commercially successful than his other ventures, was widely seen as a sort of a sketchpad where the designer worked through his audacious ideas.
In 1982, he took over at over Chanel, which had been dormant since the death of its founder, Coco Chanel, more than a decade earlier.
“When I took on Chanel, it was a sleeping beauty â€“ not even a beautiful one,” he said in the 2007 documentary “Lagerfeld Confidential.” ”She snored.”
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