Karl Lagerfeld Dead at 85, Virginie Viard to Take His Place

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Karl Lagerfeld Dead at 85, Virginie Viard to Take His Place

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Karl Lagerfeld, creative director of Chanel fashion house and a giant in the fashion community, has passed away at age 85. Chanel made an official statement that his second in command and director of Chanel’s Fashion Creation Studio,  Virginie Viard, would inherit the role of creative director of the brand. As a figure in the industry who has been surrounded with as much contempt as adoration, Lagerfeld’s death has garnered an extreme variety of reactions.

The German designer is renowned for his creative yet controversial use of fur (both real and fake) in many of his pieces as well his earlier works under Fendi’s brand. What he’s best known for, however, is his near-singlehanded revival of the Chanel brand following his acquisition of the creative director position in 1983. His revitalization of the brand’s ready-to-wear line and incorporation of the brand’s interlocked Cs logo worked wonders in saving the company. His usual outfit consisted of a decorated monochrome suit with a tall, detachable collar and leather fingerless gloves with his signature stark white hair done in a low-profile ponytail. Due to both his standing in the industry as well as his mix of class and uniqueness in his outfits, heads were sure to turn when Lagerfeld walked into the room.

Lagerfeld in his usual attire (via Dezeen)

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.”

— Alan Wertheimer, CEO of Chanel

Today the world lost a creative genius. We will miss you Karl! #RIPKarlLagerfeld”

— Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States (via Twitter)

Lagerfeld also stands as an example of politics being but a short distance down-river from culture. Being no stranger to controversy, he’s been accused of body shaming, islamophobia, racism, sexism, anti-semitism, and plenty more. At one point, he threatened to renounce his German citizenship as a result of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s policy on immigration. His stance on the #MeToo movement was also rather harsh, claiming that “If you don’t want your pants pulled about, join a nunnery.” In 2001, a group of PETA protestors rushed Lagerfeld and fellow designer Calvin Klein with a tofu pie, accidentally nailing Klein rather than their intended target. A PETA spokesperson later released an apology, stating that Klein was very much a friend of their cause.

Lagerfeld is also known for some of his rather unorthodox outlooks on less politicized things, which have lead to some truly memorable quotes:

 

“I am very much down to earth, just not this earth.”

 

“I lost 200 lbs to wear suits by Hedi Slimane.”

 

“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control over your life, so you bought some sweatpants.”

 

“I am physically allergic to flip-flops.”

 

“My thing is to work more than others to show them how useless they are.”

 

“I am rather pro-prostitution. I admire people who do it. It can’t be much fun. Thank goodness for it. People need relief or they become murderers.”

 

After being absent from last month’s Chanel Couture show in Paris, suspicions arose as to the designer’s whereabouts and condition. He had allegedly been dealing with health issues since January. After being admitted to the American Hospital of Paris on the 18th of February, he passed away a day later. A question remains of his personal fortune. With no heir or partner, it’s left to speculation where his sizable inheritance will fall. Some even claim that his beloved pet cat, Choupette, will receive a small cut.

Karl and Choupette (via Vanity Fair)

With Lagerfeld’s death and many more great minds such as Yohji Yamamoto approaching their waning days, the high fashion industry may very well be in for a rough patch in the coming decades.

A young Karl Lagerfeld (Photo by Helmut Newton)