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Karl Lagerfeld, Designer of Chanel and Fendi, Dead at 85

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld, the designer behind Chanel, Fendi, and his own eponymous brand, has died in Paris, according to Business of Fashion. Reports say that after he was rushed to the hospital on Monday night, Lagerfeld passed on Tuesday morning. An infamous multi-hyphenate, the designer had one of the most prolific careers in fashion history, making his first mark in the industry when he won an International Woolmark Prize, then known as the International Wool Secretariat, in 1954 alongside Yves Saint Laurent.

Lagerfeld’s legacy is incomparable. In addition to putting on blockbuster shows for Chanel every season, — reimagining the runway as a supermarket, working rockets, or even a coffee shop, — the German designer was also one of the first to successfully produce a fast fashion collaboration in a way that didn’t “cheapen” his high fashion brand. His was the first in a now long running and highly anticipated series of collaborations with H&M.

Lagerfeld, who is also known for his quippy and sometimes problematic quotes, has been the artistic director of Chanel for 35 years, starting there in 1983. His contract was said to be lifelong, and he is widely attributed with reviving the house and its accessories and ready-to-wear business after the passing of its founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. This successful appointment followed with roles as at a number of brands, including Chloé and Pierre Balmain. His work at Fendi began as early as 1964. His long-standing relationship with the brand matured into inspiration; in January the brand’s creative director Silvia Venturini Fendi cited Lagerfeld’s personal style as inspiration for the label’s latest menswear collection.

In January, the designer, who was the recent subject of an episode of Netflix’s 7 Days Out, did not take his bow at the end of the the Chanel couture runway. This was presumed to be a first, as Lagerfeld’s bow, generally hand in hand with a model and/or Hudson Kroenig, the son of model Brad Kroenig, was a signature.

Today, industry veterans and celebrities expressed their mourning in tributes to the designer on Instagram. “There’s so much to say but at the same moment I’m at a loss for words,” casting director James Scully wrote in a caption. “So simply put, at a time when fashions star has become dim, you have and will always remain its brightest light.”

Steven Kolb, ceo and president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America posted one of Lagerfeld’s own quotes: “It’s up to you to make every day as perfect as possible – it’s a question of will and discipline.”

Virginie Viard, director of Chanel's fashion creation studio will take on the reigns at the historied French brand. Viard had been one of Lagerfeld's closest collaborators for more than 30 years.

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