Prolific designer Karl Lagerfeld has died in Paris at the age of 85. Virgine Viard, director of Chanel’s design studio and the closest collaborator of Lagerfeld’s for more than 30 years, will take over creative responsibilities at the house in his absence.
“Thanks 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,” said Chanel CEO Alain Wertheimer in a statement. “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.”
Born in Germany on September 10, 1933, Lagerfeld was raised in the countryside near Hamburg. He moved to Paris as a young man to pursue a career in illustration and soon found success in fashion, winning the International Woolmark Prize in 1954 for a sketch of a coat that was produced for the contest by Pierre Balmain.
Lagerfeld worked as Balmain’s assistant for three years before taking his prodigious talents to other houses like Krizia, Chloe, and Fendi, where he began designing in 1965 and continued until his death.
In 1983, Lagerfeld was approached by the Wertheimer family to take over the creative reigns at Chanel. Under Lagerfeld’s watchful eye and through his immense creative outpouring, Chanel was transformed into one of the most powerful and successful businesses in all of fashion.
Lagerfeld reveled in his work and although he had no children of his own, he doted on the children of his longtime muse, model Brad Kroenig, and often cast his godson, Hudson Kroenig, in his shows for Chanel. His famously pampered cat, Choupette was also a source of great joy and affection for him in his later years.
Monsieur Lagerfeld, you will be missed.