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Karl Lagerfeld Dies at 85, Designer Who Defined Luxury Fashion

Karl Lagerfeld at the Chanel Autumn 2017 haute couture show in Paris | Source:

German haute-couture designer Karl Lagerfeld, artistic director at Chanel and an icon of the global fashion industry for over half a century, has died at the age of 85.

Mr. Lagerfeld was the creative director for Chanel as well as Fendi, and was known for being a powerhouse force in the industry as well as a beloved friend to many celebrities, models, and fellow designers.

Lagerfeld described his first collections for Chanel as reflecting a modern and “chic-sexy” approach, with longer and thinner proportions, unlike Coco’s boxy-proportioned precedent. For his spring 1984 ready-to-wear show, he re-imagined classic suits and dresses with matching hats – all in denim, and for fall that year he added a hockey uniform worn with pearls and a skiing outfit in gaudy, glittering silver and red. His transformation of the brand would combine elements of the alluring (softly tailored pantsuits and charming white camellias affixed to tweed suits) with the shocking (oversize logos, micro-miniskirts, sequined running shoes, heels molded to look like pistols). The phenomenal transformation of Chanel became an industry model for how to turn an aging fashion house into a status symbol as its sales continued to soar. Lagerfeld’s role was so secure there he was contractually considered its “designer for life.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that Lagerfeld put an indelible stamp on fashion, from his floaty, feminine vision for Chloé, his logo-rific work at Fendi (he designed the iconic double-F logo!) and, of course, his Chanel shows that transported us everywhere from a supermarket to an airport terminal to a glamorous data center

portrait of the german designer with 699 superleggera chairs by gio ponti photo by karl lagerfeld for cassina

thumbnail image courtesy of karl lagerfeld

Designers, how did Mr. Lagerfield inspire you?

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