Designers and models mourn death of German fashion legend Lagerfeld
Karl Lagerfeld, iconic German fashion designer, was reported dead on Feb. 19, likely at the age of 85.
Lagerfeld made his first major achievement in fashion when, at a young age, he became assistant to Pierre Balmain after winning first prize in a contest by the International Wool Association. The years and his ages are confused by different accounts, due to Lagerfeld's tendency to fabricate his birth year, as reported by The New York Times.
Lagerfeld’s influence on the fashion industry grew with his collaborations with Fendi and Chloé, as well as his role as the creative director of French fashion house Chanel in 1983.
He was the creative director of Chanel for 36 years and Fendi for over five decades, reforming and reinterpreting Chanel’s iconic designs while making sure to keep the collections and designs exciting and up-to-date.
“The label has an image and it's up to me to update it. What I did, she never did, she would have hated,” Lagerfeld said to CNN in 2011 about the brand-new perspective he had brought to the fashion house, diverging from the path of creator and namesake Coco Chanel.
The designer played a crucial role in transforming Fendi from a fur-and-leather-oriented shop to an internationally recognized fashion brand. In addition to his creative director positions, Lagerfeld created his own fashion house, Karl Lagerfeld, in 1984.
Even as he found success, Lagerfeld came into controversy with his fur designs for Fendi, especially among animal rights activists. PETA condemned the Fendi “haute horreur” collection in 2015, on the 50th anniversary of Lagerfeld’s presence in the company.
“It's very easy to say no fur, no fur, no fur, but it's an industry,” Lagerfeld responded. He also claimed that he did not like the idea of animals getting killed but the ways have improved.
Shortly after his passing was announced, PETA UK tweeted: “Karl Lagerfeld has gone, and his passing marks the end of an era when fur and exotic skins were seen as covetable. PETA sends condolences to our old nemesis's loved ones.”
The tweet faced backlash from many social media users, mainly stating that it was not a respectful response to someone’s death, especially considering the organization’s goal of trying to protect the lives of animals.
Lagerfeld’s last collection for Fendi was presented during Milan Fashion Week, two days after his death. The designer previously said that he foresaw dying, like Coco Chanel did, while in the middle of creating a collection, in a 2015 New York Times interview.
Gigi Hadid, who closed the Fendi fashion show in Milan, was reported crying in response to the designer’s passing.
Universally recognized designers and models such as Donatella Versace, Naomi Campbell, Gigi and Bella Hadid and many more shared photos and messages to present their love and tributes.
Designer Marc Jacobs called Lagerfeld “a great inspiration” in a tribute image on Instagram.