German haute-couture designer Karl Lagerfeld, artistic director at Chanel and an icon of the global fashion industry for over half a century, has died at the age of 85, a source at the French fashion house Chanel said on Tuesday.
Lagerfeld, instantly recognizable in his dark suits, pony-tailed white hair and tinted sunglasses, was best known for his association with Chanel but simultaneously delivered collections for LVMH’s Fendi and his own eponymous label.
Rumors of Lagerfeld’s ill-health had swirled after he missed Chanel’s January show in Paris.
A true craftsman who combined artistic instinct, business acumen and commensurate ego, Lagerfeld was known for his strikingly visual fashion show displays and extravagant outfits.
Born in Hamburg in 1933, Lagerfeld made his debut with designer Pierre Balmain as an apprentice before moving on to Patou and Chloe and then Italian brand Fendi. He gained a rock-star status after he joined Chanel in 1983.
He earned the nicknames “Kaiser Karl” and “Fashion Meister”.