Karl Lagerfeld.—Reuters
Karl Lagerfeld.—Reuters

PARIS: The fashion world was plunged into mourning on Tuesday by the death of legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld, the rapier-witted dandy who ruled over the industry for half a century.

Chanel, the iconic French fashion house he led for nearly four decades, confirmed his passing at the age of 85, prompting an unprecedented outpouring of emotion from designers and celebrities.

Speculation about the state of health of the man they called the “Kaiser” had been rife since he missed Chanel’s Paris haute couture week show last month, with the world’s richest brand saying he “was tired”.

Lagerfeld left many younger creators in the dust well into his 80s, turning out collections season after season for Fendi and his own label, as well as Chanel — the world’s richest brand. With his powdered white pony tail, black sunglasses and starched high-collared white shirts, Lagerfeld was as instantly recognisable as his celebrity clients.

Lagerfeld’s friend, supermodel Linda Evangelista, said she was heartbroken, calling him the “great love of my life”.

In recent years the prolific German had visibly weakened, even if his extraordinary creative stamina showed little sign of flagging on the catwalk for the three brands he led.

Friends had always said that the creator would die with a pencil in his hand, and just last week his own fashion line Karl Lagerfeld was still announcing new design collaborations.

Italian designer Donatella Versace led the tributes among fashion’s leading players as news of Lagerfeld’s death broke. “Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I,” she wrote on Instagram, referring to her murdered brother who founded her brand. “We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you.”

Fellow British designer, writer and model Alexa Chung said she was “so scared” when she first met the designer, but Lagerfeld was “incredibly witty and generous. Thank you for inviting me to some of the most glamorous experiences of my life. And thanks for the dry shampoo tip. Will always think of you as I powder my wig,” she joked on Instagram, echoing the designer’s own love of repartee.

Published in Dawn, February 20th, 2019

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