Legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, immediately identifiable for his shades, his white ponytail, and his deadpan expression, has died in Paris at 85.
His death comes weeks after he missed Chanel’s Spring 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Rumors had been swirling about his declining health for some time, but he was known to have worked until the end of his life. The cause of his death has not been released, but DailyMail.com reports he died after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
In a statement, Chanel said, “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.”
The brand continued, “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.'"
Lagerfeld was one of fashion's most iconic designers, having worked in the field since the '50s. He worked with such brands as Pierre Balmain, Jean Patou, and Chloé, and revived Fendi in the '60s, working as its creative director before his long association with Chanel. Among his many other achievements, he launched his own line, founded a publishing imprint, and wrote the 2002 book "The Karl Lagerfeld Diet" to describe losing 92 lbs. Even his Birman cat, Choupette, has become a social media star.
In a statement, obtained by "Extra," Fendi chairman and CEO Serge Brunschwig said, "Working with Karl Lagerfeld at FENDI allowed me to catch a glimpse of the secret of the continuous renewal of the House. I profoundly admire Karl’s immense culture, his ability to rejuvenate at all times, to taste all the arts, to not overlook any style, along with a persistent refusal to turn to his past, to look at his work in a mirror. He was restless and his exigent nature would never leave him. The show was just ending that Karl would always say, "And now number next!" 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."
After receiving word of his death, many fashion A-listers paid tribute, including Donatella Versace, Marc Jacobs and Victoria Beckham.
Versace wrote on Instagram, “Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni [Versace, her brother] and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you.”
Jacobs shared, “Waking up to a world without Karl. So sad. And strange. He was a great inspiration to me, and, undeniably a unique and extraordinary talent. RESPECT. Rest In Peace KL.”
Beckham added, “So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP 💔x vb.”
See more tweets and Instagrams below.
We lost a true legend! You were such an inspiration to the world! You shot my first fashion shoot & I was so nervous to work w such an icon! The world is so much chicer because u existed! I’m beyond honored to have had the opportunity to work w u. U are so loved & will be missed pic.twitter.com/0BSXoLDNN7— Kim Kardashian West (@KimKardashian) February 19, 2019
It was such a thrill and a pleasure to have met you, to have worked with you, and to have experienced the amazing times when you would photograph my girls for your beautiful campaigns. There will never be another like you, my dear friend. You will be truly missed @KarlLagerfeld pic.twitter.com/VBuFZU9BmL— Kris Jenner (@KrisJenner) February 19, 2019
I don’t even recall him knowing my name, but man did I know his. We have lost a true genius in the fashion world. His designs remain with us forever. RIP #KarlLagerfeld (PS. After baby diet goals 🙏🏼) pic.twitter.com/NX7oPceSC3— Jessica Simpson (@JessicaSimpson) February 19, 2019
I’m sad to hear that the one and only @KarlLagerfeld has passed. He was a giant in my industry and a man who gave me and so many others an abundance of wonderful opportunities and experiences in fashion, art and life. Truly, this is the end to an era. #karllagerfeld pic.twitter.com/LrXAcOVSvb— Coco Rocha (@cocorocha) February 19, 2019
One of the coolest moments of my career was shooting my 1st high fashion shoot with you as the photographer. Every detail mattered to you. Thank you for the inspiration you’ve given us all. You will truly be missed. Rest In Peace Legend #KarlLagerfeld #Chanel ❤️ pic.twitter.com/1aChmoWz9a— Ciara (@ciara) February 19, 2019
Lagerfeld will be succeeded at Chanel by his closest collaborator, Virginie Viard, Director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio.