Controversial Fashion Designer Karl Lagerfeld Dead at 85

Lagerfeld was the creative director of Chanel since 1983.

karl lagerfeld dead
Karl Lagerfeld's death was announced by Chanel. (Dominique Charriau/WireImage)

Karl Lagerfeld, the fashion designer behind Chanel and who has been touted as the most prolific designer of the 20th and 21st centuries, died on Tuesday in Paris. He was 85.

“More than anyone I know, he represents the soul of fashion: restless, forward-looking and voraciously attentive to our changing culture,” editor of American Vogue, Anna Wintour, said of Lagerfeld when presenting him with the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Fashion Awards in 2015, The New York Times reported.

His death was announced by Chanel after the designer was rumored ill for several weeks.

Lagerfeld was the creative director of Chanel since 1983, Fendi since 1965 and the founder of his own line, as well.

The controversial face of fashion said many outlandish and sometimes highly offensive remarks about the industry.

According to the Times, he once referred to Coco Chanel’s brand as a “whore.”

“Chanel is an institution, and you have to treat an institution like a whore — and then you get something out of her,” he said.

Lagerfeld also shared some discriminative things about models, too, once coming under fire for saying that “that “nobody wants to see curvy people on the runway.”

He also believed that “sweatpants are a sign of defeat.”

Those who wanted to dismiss the designer referred to him as a “styliste,” a designer who creates his looks by repurposing what already exists, as opposed to inventing anything new, according to the Times. But he rejected the idea of fashion-as-art, and the designer-as-tortured genius. His goal was more opportunistic.

“I would like to be a one-man multinational fashion phenomenon,” he once said.

Though rumors often circulated that Mr. Lagerfeld was sick and about to retire, he never did. He had a lifetime contract with both Chanel and Fendi, and he exercised it. If he stopped, he would say when asked, he might as well stop breathing.

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