Legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dies, aged 85

Global Business

NEW YORK, NY – FEBRUARY 19: A logo adorns the storefront of the Karl Lagerfeld store in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, February 19, 2019 in New York City. Karl Lagerfeld, a prolific and influential German fashion designer, passed away on Tuesday in Paris at the age of 85. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

The world of fashion is mourning the passing of one of its biggest names. Karl Lagerfeld died in Paris Tuesday at the age of 85. CGTN’s Gerald Tan takes a look back at his extraordinary life.

He was often called “The Kaiser” — a fitting title for the German designer who reigned over the fashion world for half a century.

Lagerfeld was prolific. He had his own line and headed the Italian brand Fendi, all while presiding over French couture house Chanel – which he revived in the 1980s from a passé label into a multi-billion dollar powerhouse. In the process, Lagerfeld became a household name. He said, “I never wanted a different life. I’m pretty happy with what I got.”

Lagerfeld was a look all his own: powdered pony tail and tinted sunglasses, as iconic as the clothes he sent down the runway and his signature extravagant sets, from rocket ships to airports. Or the time he turned the Great Wall of China into a catwalk.

Describing his inspiration, Lagerfeld said, “Life. Going ahead. Remember now, forget about the past.”

Birth records show Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg in 1933 – though he never revealed the exact year himself, adding to his carefully crafted persona.

As his fortunes changed with fashion, he also changed the industry – helping to usher in the era of the supermodel, with the likes of Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista. But he never took his success for granted.

Lagerfeld explained, “You know, fashion is not needed. There are other problems in the world which may be more important, so this is not a problem but it’s an industry. And, you know, fashion has to go with time; if fashion doesn’t go with time, fashion would be lost.”

Ever fearless, Lagerfeld was known to court controversy with his comments. He was dismissive of the ‘MeToo’ movement, employed only thin models on the runway, and infamously called sweatpants, a sign of defeat.

Around the globe, industry heavyweights are sending heartfelt tributes to Lagerfeld. Vogue’s Anna Wintour described his creative genius as breathtaking.

Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Fashion without wit is disastrous.” A mantra he embodied over his long and storied career.

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