The legendary creative director of Chanel, Fendi, and more labels, Karl Lagerfeld, has passed away in Paris. Aside from being one of the most influential figures in fashion, he was also one of the most recognizable. His standard uniform usually consisted of a high starched collar, fingerless gloves, and dark shades. This austere image overlaid a warm and generous nature. Many fondly referred to him as ‘Kaiser Karl.’
Born in Hamburg, Lagerfeld got his start in the industry after winning a coat design competition in 1955. This earned him a design role at Balmain. In coming years, he would revolutionize label after label. Credited with rescuing Chanel, he secured the house’s reputation as the untouchable paragon it is today.
He also oversaw Fendi and an eponymous line, churning out up to six collections annually for each brand. The industry never ceased to marvel at his ability to conjure infinite outfits, every one an instant classic. Even the slightest changes to his appearance were guaranteed to send the style rumor mill into overdrive. Recent examples are the beard and non-tinted glasses he wore to Chanel’s Spring 2019 show in October 2018.
Lagerfeld met speculations about his health and retirement with characteristic candor and humor. “[M]y contracts with Fendi and Chanel are lifelong,” he reassured Harper’s Bazaar in a 2016 interview. The visionary was well-known for curating his enigmatic persona with as much relish as his many brands.