Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion icon – and iconoclast – who outfitted and photographed such stars as Nicole Kidman and Lady Gaga, has died. He was 85.
Lagerfeld died in Paris, fashion house Chanel said. Although his health had been failing, he kept working up to his death, issuing instructions regarding Fendi’s fall ready-to-wear collection, which will be showcased in Milan later this week, Variety sister publication WWD reported.
“A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films,” Chanel said, adding that it had “benefited from his talent for all the branding campaigns related to fashion since 1987. Finally, one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery.”
Lagerfeld hobnobbed with Hollywood celebrities and the European elite. With his vast network of connections, he was able to cast such luminaries as Kristen Stewart, Lily-Rose Depp, and Jerry Hall in fashion spots promoting Chanel fashions and accessories.
He was also known for his prickly personality, even getting into a much-publicized spat with Meryl Streep before the 2017 Oscars. In what he later said was a misunderstanding, Lagerfeld accused the legendary actress of abandoning his Chanel creation for the dress of another designer who was willing to pay her, calling Streep “a genius actress, but cheapness also, no?” Lagerfeld later apologized for his remarks.
Few disputed his commanding reputation in the fashion industry, or the creative power that helped turn around Chanel’s fortunes after he took over as couturier in 1983. Lagerfeld’s name grew to become synonymous with innovation and luxury, and both he and his creations were ubiquitous presences on red carpets across the globe. Yet Lagerfeld also eschewed the drinking, smoking and partying associated with that glamorous world, sometimes stopping to wonder at the renown he achieved later in life than had happened to many of his contemporaries.
“It’s unbelievable, I don’t know how it happened — it’s so strange, this fame thing,” he once said. “But as my fortune-teller told me when I was young, she said: ‘For you, it will really start when it’s finished for the others.’ It’s quite true.”
He was born in Hamburg, Germany, an only child who from an early age exhibited artistic talent. He eventually moved to Paris and was hired by Chanel.
Behind his trademark dark, almost mysterious sunglasses, Lagerfeld revealed little about his private life. He was known to have had a relationship in the 1970s with Jacques de Bascher, after whom he named his 1997 fragrance, Jako.