Upon hearing of the designer’s death, members of the fashion industry reacted on social media, mourning his loss and sharing fond memories.
Lagerfeld, with his signature white ponytail and dark sunglasses, was considered one of the hardest-working people in fashion. While the designer was most widely known for his work at Chanel, he was also the creative director at Fendi and his eponymous Karl Lagerfeld label; he held all three jobs simultaneously. Lagerfeld was an accomplished fashion photographer as well and even shot a number of the campaigns for the labels he led.
The designer was born in Hamburg, Germany. He got his first taste of fashion praise in 1954 when he won a contest organized by the International Wool Association, as noted on the Karl Lagerfeld website. The designer submitted a sketch of a coat, which ultimately caught the eye of fashion great Pierre Balmain, who offered the then-17-year-old Lagerfeld a job as his assistant.
By the 1960s, Lagerfeld was freelancing within the fashion industry, working between France, Italy, England and Germany. In 1964, he started working for Chloé, becoming the brand’s creative lead in 1974 and again in 1992. While working at Chloé, Lagerfeld also began working with Fendi, and held the position of creative director there until his death. In 1983 he was named art director at Chanel, where he stayed for 36 years until he died, and in 1984 he launched his own eponymous fashion house.
Lagerfeld was a master of his craft, whose go-to black and white aesthetic was often reflected in his work. He was an outspoken character in the fashion industry who stirred controversy on a number of occasions thanks to his often outdated opinions on everything from Adele’s weight to the Me Too movement.
Throughout his career, he designed countless garments ― and epic fashion show sets ― that will go down as some of the most memorable in fashion history. From the beaded guitar dress at Chloé to the furry Karlito keychains at Fendi, and the many tweed suits and couture bridal gowns at Chanel, take a look back at the designer’s fashion legacy in photos: