If you follow fashion at all, then you know the name Karl Lagerfeld. He was the most prolific designer of the century, spearheading both Chanel and Fendi.
Sadly, he passed away in Paris on Tuesday. He was unable to make the final bow at his most recent fashion show, citing exhaustion.
Lagerfeld, who was a larger-than-life figure in many ways, made a habit out of lying about his age. At different times, he claimed to have been born in 1933, 1935, or 1938. Our best guess is that he was 85 at the time of his death.
When he was a teenager, Lagerfeld won a design competition that landed him a chance to work with Pierre Balmain. He worked as Balmain’s assistant for three years before searching for a fashion house where he could make his mark.
The German designer worked for a dizzying number of fashion houses and designed smaller collections for other labels. He’s best known for his 36 years as the creative director of Chanel, but there’s much more to his legacy.
Lagerfeld was also the creative director of Fendi from 1965 until his death. He started his own label, named simply “Karl Lagerfeld” in 1974. In addition, he worked with French fashion house Chloé off and on since 1963. He designed off-the-rack collections for H&M and Macy’s in recent years.
When he took over as creative director, Chanel was mostly known for prim tweed suits. Although he retained the essence of the house’s iconic designs, he brought an edge to them that revitalized the label.
He was responsible for courting a younger, edgier group of models and actresses to represent Chanel. Lagerfeld was particularly close with Kristen Stewart, as well as Johnny Depp’s daughter Lily-Rose and Keira Knightley.
Lagerfeld was famously outspoken and critical, even offensive at times. His signature slim-cut suits, high collars, white ponytail and dark glasses made him instantly recognizable. He said of his look, “I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that.”
Despite his prickly personality, Lagerfeld was beloved by many in the fashion world. Fellow designer Donatella Versace offered a heartfelt tribute on Instagram, writing “Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you.”
Anna Wintour, the legendary editor-in-chief of Vogue said, “Karl was brilliant, he was wicked, he was funny, he was generous beyond measure, and he was deeply kind. I will miss him so very much.”
In recent years, Karl adopted a gloriously fluffy kitten he named Choupette. He absolutely doted on her, and the internet–which cannot resist a cute cat–fell in love with Choupette too. She has her own Instagram page, as well as her own bodyguard and maid.
Yes, she might be a tad spoiled, but Choupette is probably missing her human today.