Legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died in Paris, France, at the age of 85.
Lagerfeld had been suffering from pancreatic cancer, and passed away on Tuesday after being rushed to hospital, a source said.
Spice Girl-turned-designer Victoria Beckham lead a host of tributes to the late fashion designer today, writing: ‘So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP’.
The German-born artistic director for Chanel had looked increasingly frail in recent months, and had did not come out to take a bow at Chanel’s couture show in Paris in January, something the company attributed to him being ‘too tired’.
Victoria Beckham has lead a host of tributes to fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, pictured together right, who died in Paris, France, at the age of 85, today
Heartbroken: The singer-turned-designer spoke of her grief in an Instagram post published today
One of his last walks: Lagerfeld walks the runway with Chanel’s current fashion creation studio director Virginie Viard, who will now take over as artistic director, and his godson Hudson Kroenig, right, at Chanel Metiers D’Art 2018/19 Show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on in December 2018 in New York City
Kaiser Karl: Karl Lagerfeld poses with Kendall Jenner and Cara Delevingne during the Chanel A/W show in March 2015
‘He hadn’t gone on about his illness, but battled it very bravely,’ said one source. ‘Karl was very proud of his fitness and healthy living, so the pancreatic cancer came as a huge shock.’
An official statement published on his Instagram said: ‘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.
Celebrities and models and designers have flocked to social media to pay tribute to the late designer.
Donatella Versace was among the first to do so, writing 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.’
Fellow designer Marc Jacobs also paid his respects, writing: ‘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.’
Chanel muse and actress Diane Kruger revealed in a heartbreaking post, that she was bringing her four-month-old daughter to meet Karl Lagerfeld in France yet admitted ‘I was too late’.
Kylie Minogue also shared a message about the designer, writing: ‘I loved working with you. Unique, masterful, funny and generous. RIP.’
Claudia Schiffer paid tribute to Lagerfeld on Instagram, writing: ‘Karl was my magic dust, he transformed me from a shy German girl into a supermodel.
‘He taught me about fashion, style and survival in the fashion business. What Warhol was to art, he was to fashion; he is irreplaceable.
‘He is the only person who could make black and white colourful! I will be eternally grateful to him.’
Style: Karl Lagerfeld, seen with Kate Moss in 2009 and Lady Gaga in September 2018, became known for his dark suits, pony tail and sunglasses
Collaboration: Lagerfeld poses with17-year-old Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford, at a cocktail party to celebrate the launch of the ‘Karl Lagerfeld x Kaia’ collaboration capsule collection in Paris in October. He is pictured right with Lily-Rose Depp at the end of the Chanel show in Paris in 2017
Family first: Lagerfeld adored his cat Choupette, sometimes referred to as his ‘daughter’ and said in an interview he wanted to be buried with her
In Diane’s tribute to the star, she revealed she was set to fly to France this week to introduce Karl to her daughter, as she penned: ‘Karl…..I cannot tell you how much you meant to me and how much I will miss you…
‘I will never forget your kindness towards me, your laughs, your imagination. I came to France see you this week and introduce you to my daughter…I’m heartbroken I was too late. Rest In Peace, I adore you’.
Supermodel Bella Hadid wrote: ‘Nothing feels right today..at a loss for words and so heartbroken by the loss of Karl…
‘His humor, wit , love and passion for fashion will live on forever. Thank you for the inspiration that you gave to this world and for all of the hearts that you touched in the process…
‘Every time I saw you it felt like the first time & I will miss your hugs so much. Sending my love to the Lagerfeld family and to all closest to him. I am so sorry. We all love you so much. Rest In Peace’.
Ten of Lagerfeld’s most acerbic comments
On short, unattractive people: ‘Life is not a beauty contest, some [ugly people] are great. What I hate is nasty, ugly people… the worst is ugly, short men. Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life… they are mean and they want to kill you.’
On people who complain about thin models: ‘They are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly.’
On former friend and Chanel muse, Inès de la Fressange: ‘I wish her all the luck in the world, just so long as I don’t have to see her anymore or hear her spoken about.’
On pop star, Seal: ‘I am no dermatologist but I wouldn’t want his skin. Mine looks better than his. He is covered in craters.’
On Heidi Klum: ‘I don’t know Heidi Klum. She was never known in France. Claudia Schiffer also doesn’t know who she is.’
On fur: ‘It is farmers who are nice to the cows and the pigs and then kill them. It’s even more hypocritical than hunters. At least the hunters don’t flatter the animals….I don’t like that people butcher animals, but I don’t like them to butcher humans either, which is apparently very popular in the world.’
On the Queen: ‘She looks a little bit like her grandmother – a more smiley version. ‘In terms of what she wears, she’s come into herself a little bit more – whatever that is.’
On Michelle Obama: ‘I don’t understand the change of hair. I adore Madame Obama, I love her. But there is a news reader at LCI which has this haircut…Frankly, this doesn’t suit her. The fringe was a bad idea, it’s not good.’
On Adele: ‘The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.’
On Lana del Rey: ‘Is she a construct with all her implants?’
Her sister Gigi added: ‘I’m so heartbroken I almost don’t have words… There will never be another Karl Lagerfeld. Ever second with you was an honour, joy and inspiration. I wish I could give you one last hug. I love you Karl. Thank you for everything. Rest in peace.’
American Vogue editor Anna Wintour says the world has lost ‘a giant among men’ with the death of Karl Lagerfeld, whom she will miss ‘so very much.’
‘Karl was so much more than our greatest and most prolific designer,’ she said. ‘His creative genius was breathtaking and to be his friend was an exceptional gift.
‘Karl was brilliant, he was wicked, he was funny, he was generous beyond measure, and he was deeply kind.’
Designer Stella McCartney posted a long message reading: ‘This is a truly sad day. To say I knew this gentle man that changed how we all looked at the world, is an honour.
‘My heart goes out to his loved ones and to all that felt his delicate and spectacular touch on an industry that is so crowded with characters. He held his place high above all and his sharp wit and mind blew us all away. A true icon…
‘One that will be missed for many, many years to come and will always be responsible for so much creative genius. Thank you Karl for all the beauty and for seeing the world through those iconic glasses that were truly rose-tinted with a vision that was like no other. You will be very missed… And always loved x’.
Bernard Arnault, the chairman and CEO of luxury house LVMH, says the world has lost ‘a creative genius’ with the death of Karl Lagerfeld.
In a statement released by LVMH, Arnault says ‘we owe him a great deal: his taste and talent were the most exceptional I have ever known.’
Lagerfeld – dubbed ‘Kaiser Karl’ and ‘Fashion Meister’ – was worshiped like a god in fashion circles around the world up until his death.
The Hamburg-born son of a German mother and Swedish father, left his home country for France and the capital of fashion – Paris – in his early 20s and is best known for his association with Chanel, dating back to 1983.
But Lagerfeld, who simultaneously churned out collections for LVMH’s Fendi and his eponymous label – an unheard of feat in fashion – was also brand in his own right, much thanks to his unique style.
In his later years, he sported dark suits, white, pony-tailed hair and tinted sunglasses, which made him instantly recognisable, even outside the court of haute couture.
However, his appearance and favourite accessory changed over the years – for a long time he would carry a fan everywhere he went.
Known to adore Diet Coke, Lagerfeld said he shed weight in the early 2000s to fit into the razor-thin suits brought in by Christian Dior’s then menswear designer Hedi Slimane.
In rare moments when he was not working, Lagerfeld retired to one of his many homes in Paris, Germany, Italy or Monaco, all of them lavish carbon copies of 18th-century interiors.
While famously reluctant to discuss his love life, Lagerfeld opened up about his partner of 18 years, the late Frenchman Jacques de Bascher, in a 2017 book.
Speaking to author Marie Ottavi for her book about De Bascher, who died of AIDS aged 38, Lagerfeld revealed that during his partner’s final days he slept in a cot next to his hospital bed.
De Bascher was well known in Paris high society – in particular for his debauched parties – but even though the couple were together for nearly two decades, until his death in 1989, Lagerfeld said they never had sex.
In 2010, Lagerfeld said he did not sleep with people he loves, and preferred to pay prostitutes for sex.
Speaking to Vice magazine he said: ‘I personally only like high-class escorts. I don’t like sleeping with people I really love. I don’t want to sleep with them because sex cannot last, but affection can last forever. I think this is healthy.
‘And for the way the rich live, this is possible. But the other world, I think they need porn.’
Bumping along nicely: Sharing a shot of her shoots with the icon, Kim Kardashian wrote: ‘We lost a true legend!!!! You were such an inspiration to the world! You shot my first fashion shoot and I was so nervous to work with such an icon!’
Beloved friend: Alexa Chung, another close ally to Chanel shared a cheeky tribute in which she penned: ‘Rest in peace, Karl. I remember being so scared to interview you and yet you were in fact incredibly witty and generous’
Way back when: Chanel model Cara Delevingne shared a candid behind the scenes snap with the caption: ‘Such an honour to have been able to meet the legend that was @karllagerfeld A true fashion icon #karllargerfeld #RIP’
Starting off: Lagerfeld after winning the coats category in a design competition sponsored by the International Wool Secretariat, Paris, December 1954. With him is a model wearing his design. The competition win led to Lagerfeld being hired as assistant to Pierre Balmain
Before the sunglasses: Lagerfeld is seen sitting on the edge of his desk in his Paris apartment
Rise to power: Lagerfeld is pictured in 1982, left, and 1980, right, shortly before he began working with Chanel
Certain style: By the 1990s he had earned rockstar status in the fashion work for his work with Chanel
Lagerfeld poses with German model Nadja Auermann, left, Naomi Campbell, second right, and Shalom Harlow, after the presentation of Chanel’s 1996 spring/summer haute couture collection, in Paris
The designer mingled with the young and trendy until the last, pairing up with 17-year-old catwalk darling Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford, for a collaboration released by his Karl Lagerfeld brand in 2018.
Lagerfeld was known for his mode muses, but in particular his favourite feline inspiration: his cat Choupette.
The white-haired Birman has been described as the ‘daughter of Karl Otto Lagerfeld’, and inspired numerous designs by Lagerfeld.
CHOUPETTE: ‘THE DAUGHTER OF KARL’
By the end of his life, Lagerfeld said his closest relationship was with a white Burmese cat called Choupette.
‘I’d marry Choupette if it was legal,’ Lagerfeld said in 2013, two years after he ‘abducted’ the cat from the Chanel model Baptiste Giabiconi.
Since then, Lagerfeld had turned Choupette into a model and social media star, earning a multi-million pounds fortune in the process.
Close: Karl was exceptionally close to his cat Choupette
Lagerfeld told Vanity Fair: ‘Choupette was not given to me. Choupette belonged to a friend of mine, who asked my maid if she could take care of her when he was travelling.
‘When he returned, he did not get Choupette back*.Choupette became the most famous cat in the world, but also the richest.’
Choupette began her modeling career in August 2012, posing in the arms of French supermodel Laetitia Casta by the Eiffel Tower.
The cat has since been used in numerous advertising campaigns, including ones of Opel cars and make-up ranges.
It is not known who will now look after Choupette.
He was famously close to his cat, and as recently as last April, he told Numéro magazine that he wanted to be buried with his pet.
‘There will be no funeral. I’d rather die! I’ve asked to be cremated and want my ashes to be scattered along with my mother’s… And [my cat] Choupette’s, if she dies before I do.’
Lagerfeld also stood out as a craftsman. An accomplished photographer, he drew his own designs by hand, an increasingly rare phenomenon in fashion.
His grandiose fashion shows for Chanel have become well known for their extravagance and imagination, with Lagerfeld building huge sets and stages for fashion weeks around the world.
As well as making models walk through a ‘Chanel Airport’ entrance hall and a super market, he has also built sets meant to look like stables, and a beach in recent years.
Lagerfeld will be succeeded by Virginie Viard, Chanel’s fashion creation studio director, who has been his closest collaborator for more than 30 years.
Behind the facade, Lagerfeld was known for his erudition and penchant for literature, and he devoured the world’s leading newspapers daily.
Though he long enjoyed befuddling interviewers by citing different years of birth, the one deemed the most reliable is September 10, 1933.
He spent early childhood tucked away from war in the 1,200-acre family estate in Bavaria and had a French tutor.
The big breakthrough came shortly after a move to Paris when, in 1954, he drew a wool coat that won a prize and landed him an apprenticeship with designer Pierre Balmain.
Yves Saint Laurent, who went on to found his namesake label, won the dress prize. The two became fierce competitors and even rivals in love at one point, both chasing the affections of Lagerfeld’s eventual partner De Bascher.
Saint Laurent, who died in 2008, became the enfant cheri of high society and Lagerfeld leader of a wild-child younger group.
He first found real success in the mid-1960s with Chloe, the fashion label now owned by Switzerland’s Richemont and to which he was connected off and on until 1997, but it was Chanel that propelled him to rock-star status.
Lagerfeld was as harsh with his fashion models as he was searingly critical of anyone he considered ‘not trendy’.
He fired his closest female friend, former Chanel model Ines de la Fressange, in 1999 after she agreed to pose as Marianne, France’s national symbol, without asking him first.
Occasionally his sharp tongue has stirred controversies, though Lagerfeld, who moonlighted as a cartoonist in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, also had a flair for a good soundbite.
‘I’m a kind of fashion nymphomaniac who never gets an orgasm,’ he said in 1984, asked about what he felt after a fashion show.
In 2012, he said about singer Adele: ‘She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice’.
After the 2011 Royal Wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, he said Kate has a ‘nice silhouette’, but that sister Pippa Middleton ‘struggles’.
‘I don’t like the sister’s face. She should only show her back.’
Another outburst saw him reality TV star Kim Kardashian for being robbed at gun point in Paris, claiming she brought the horrific ordeal on herself by flaunting her wealth.
People stand in front of flowers laid in tribute to late German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld outside the French fashion house Chanel, in Paris
A man and a woman wearing dark glasses lay down flowers to pay tribute to the designer
Flowers and a fashion sketch are laid in tribute to Lagerfeld outside in Chanel, in Paris after news broke of his death today
Some of his most brutal comments were immortalised in a book in 2013 – The World According To Karl.
Not content with upsetting Adele and the Middletons, he then went on to ask whether any part of singer Lana del Rey was real, before offending the whole of Russia with another remark.
‘If I was a woman in Russia I would be a lesbian, as the men are very ugly,’ he quipped.
Another country to feel the sting of his wit was Greece, after the designer weighed into the debate on the nation’s financial crisis and corruption problems.
‘Greece needs to work on a cleaner image,’ he advised. ‘It’s a big problem, as they have this reputation of being so corrupt.
‘You can’t be sure the money will go where it’s supposed to go. Nobody wants Greece to disappear, but they have really disgusting habits. Italy as well.’
He’s even had a crack at the press, including magazine Newsweek, whose editor, Tina Brown, ran a story that claimed Lagerfeld was overrated.
‘First of all, Tina Brown’s magazine is not doing well at all,’ he riposted. ‘She is dying. I’m sorry for Tina Brown, who was such a success at Vanity Fair, to go down with a s***ty little paper like this. I’m sorry.’
‘There are a few handsome ones, like Naomi Campbell’s boyfriend, but there you see the most beautiful women and the most horrible men.’
Some of his most brutal comments were immortalised in a book in 2013 – The World According To Karl.
One of his remarks was that ‘sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.’
How Karl Lagerfeld transformed Chanel from an ailing label known for prim tweed suits to a celeb favourite with rockstar edge (but failed to win back the royals after acerbic remarks on the Middletons)
By Unity Blott
The late Karl Lagerfeld may have reversed the fortunes of ailing fashion label Chanel, but the fashion chief never succeeded in winning over the royal family.
The designer, who died on Tuesday aged 85, is widely credited with overhauling the French luxury house, once known for its sensible tweed two-pieces, into a cutting-edge fashion powerhouse synonymous with smudged eyeliner, show-stopping couture and futuristic minis.
When he took the helm of Chanel in 1983, he shifted focus away from fragrance and accessories and focused on updating its heritage pieces, injecting much-needed life into its couture line following the death of legendary founder Coco Chanel.
As of 2019, he he boasted an A-list following including the likes of Keira Knightley and Kristen Stewart and Chanel was turning over around $10bn (£7.7bn) a year.
Chanel has undergone an image overhaul of epic proportions, from tweed two-pieces to futuristic minis (pictured: Kristen Stewart in Chanel at the Cannes Film Festival, May 2018)
The way they were: A navy two-piece suit on the Chanel runway in Paris, one of Lagerfeld’s first shows for the French fashion house’s AW 1983-1984 collection
Despite his celebrity clientele, Lagerfeld failed to secure a coveted spot in the royal wardrobe and, unlike other major luxury houses such as Dolce & Gabbana and Alexander McQueen, was widely snubbed by Palace stylists.
The Duchess of Cambridge has notably worn Chanel just once – during a visit to the French capital in 2017 – while the Duchess of Sussex has not been seen in the label since her pre-royal days.
Insiders had long suspected the royal snub was linked to Lagerfeld’s acid-tongued remarks about the Middletons; after the 2011 wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, he famously said Kate has a ‘nice silhouette’, but that sister Pippa Middleton ‘struggles’.
Speaking to a German magazine, he said: ‘Kate Middleton has a nice silhouette and she is the right girl for that boy. I like that kind of woman, I like romantic beauties.’
The late Princess of Wales once favoured Lagerfeld’s designs (pictured in a Chanel suit in Windsor, 1997) but she later refused to wear Chanel because it reminded her of Charles
Keira Knightley in Chanel couture for the Atonement premiere at the Venice Film Festival in August 2007. The actress is a Chanel ambassador and has starred in fragrance adverts
‘On the other hand, her sister struggles,’ the designer added. ‘I don’t like the sister’s face. She should only show her back.’
While the late Princess of Wales once favoured Lagerfeld’s designs, she later refused to wear Chanel because its iconic double-C emblem ‘reminded her of Charles and Camilla’.
Chanel sources confirmed on Tuesday that Lagerfeld had died in Paris at the age of 85 following a period of ill health.
His death comes after he missed the Chanel haute couture show in Paris in January for the first time since his arrival in 1983.
The Duchess of Cambridge has notably worn Chanel just once – during a visit to the French capital in 2017 (pictured during a visit to Les Invalides military hospital)
Lagerfeld was also the creative director of Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi, as well as his eponymous fashion label, which he launched in 1984.
The designer had worked with the likes of Chloé and H&M, and was also an acclaimed photographer, having gone behind the lens for a number of high fashion magazines and for his own fashion campaigns.
Regarded as one of the most important fashion visionaries of the 20th and 21st centuries, he was known for regularly wearing sunglasses and a black suit with a white shirt, with his grey hair pulled back into a ponytail.
Runway ready: Models present creations for Chanel during the 2016 Spring/Summer ready-to-wear collection fashion show, on at the Grand Palais in Paris in October 2015
Lagerfeld and Cara Delevingne appear at the end of the runway during the ‘supermarket inspired’ Chanel show as part of the Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Fall/Winter 2014-2015 in March 2014
In 2017, the fashion designer sparked outrage by evoking the Holocaust as he attacked German Chancellor Angela Merkel for opening the country’s borders to migrants.
The German said his country ‘cannot – even if there are decades between them – kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place’.
He added while speaking on a French television show: ‘I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said, ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust”.
At the time, several hundred lodged official complaints about Lagerfeld’s comments after he appeared on the ‘Salut les terriens!’ (Hello Earthlings!) talkshow on the C8 channel.
The Chanel designer, who was born in Hamburg just as Adolf Hitler came to power, had earlier lambasted Merkel for taking more than one million asylum seekers since the migrant crisis of 2015.
‘Merkel had already millions and millions (of immigrants) who are well integrated and who work and all is well… she had no need to take another million to improve her image as the wicked stepmother after the Greek crisis,’ said Lagerfeld.
‘Suddenly we see the pastor’s daughter,’ he said in reference to Merkel’s father, who was a Protestant minister in the former East Germany.
Lagerfeld said he was going to ‘say something horrific’ before criticising the chancellor for the ‘huge error’ of accepting so many refugees from war-torn Syria and elsewhere.
‘Look at France, the land of human rights, which has taken, I don’t know, 10,000 or 20,000,’ he added.
Months later he slammed the #MeToo movement while revealing that he is ‘fed up’ with models and actresses speaking up about the sexual harassment they have faced over the years.
In a rare climbdown, he half-apologised to Oscar-winner movie actress Meryl Streep after once suggesting she had refused to wear a dress designed by him at an awards ceremony in favour of another she wanted to be paid to wear.
Runway shows that made Chanel the hottest ticket at Fashion Week