Iconic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dead

Photo of Karl Lagerfeld who has died aged 85

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died aged 85, French tabloid Pure People reported on Tuesday (February 19).

The German designer, best known for his work at French fashion house Chanel, was admitted to the American Hospital of Paris on Monday (February 18), according to French media.

The cause of death is not yet known.

“I design like I breathe. You don’t ask to breathe—It just happens.”

— Karl Lagerfeld

Lagerfeld’s health had been a subject of concern for the past few weeks, as the artistic director of Chanel missed a catwalk bow at Paris Fashion Week for the first time on January 22.

“Mr Lagerfeld, artistic director of Chanel, who was feeling tired, asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him,” said a statement after the second show quoted in The Guardian.

Karl Lagerfeld worked in fashion for over half a century

Lagerfeld began his career at French fashion houses in 1955, when he began working as an assistant to Pierre Balmain. After working with Chloé and Italian fashion house Fendi, where he still held the title of artistic director at the time of his death, he took on the role of artistic director at Chanel in 1983, aged 50.

The designer launched his own eponymous Karl Lagerfeld label in 1984.

“Chanel is me doing Chanel, Fendi is me doing Italy and this is me doing me, whatever that means,” he told British Vogue in 2012, at the launch of his Karl debut collection. “Don’t ask me too many questions because it’s very strange to see your face wherever you turn,” he added.

Photo of Karl Lagerfield, who has died, with Janelle Monae.

Karl Lagerfeld and Janelle Monae pose for a photograph after the Chanel Cruise Collection 2014/2015 at The Island on May 13, 2014 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Francois Nel/Getty)

He became the first designer to work together with H&M in 2004, collaborating with the high street brand to create a collection of 30 pieces.

“I design like I breathe,” he said, describing his artistic process in a quote on the label’s website, adding: “You don’t ask to breathe — it just happens.”

Karl Lagerfeld was not keen to discuss his age

In the biography on Karl Lagerfeld’s website, the designer is said to be born in 1938.

As German news agency Deutsche Welle (DW) reported last year, Lagerfeld said he did not know the year of his birth as his birth certificate was destroyed in the bombing of his native Hamburg during World War II.

He had also brushed off questions about his age, telling a DW reporter: “I feel young anyways.”

For a while, the designer claimed to be born in 1938, then changed the year to 1935—but records held at the Hamburg baptism register ultimately revealed the year of his birth to be 1933, according to DW.

Karl Lagerfeld loved his Siamese cat Choupette

The designer was famously attached to his white Siamese cat Choupette. Lagerfeld celebrate the pet’s seventh birthday with an intimate party in Saint Tropez in August last year.

His attachment to Choupette made headlines in 2013, when he told CNN’s Fashion Week: Backstage Pass: “There is no marriage, yet, for human beings and animals… I never thought that I would fall in love like this with a cat.”

Lagerfeld had signalled his support for same-sex marriage earlier in 2013—which would see marriage equality recognised in France following a bitter fight for legalisation—sending two models down the catwalk together wearing bridal gowns.