Lagerfeld suffered from pancreatic cancer. He was iconic, rarely seen without his dark glasses, a silver ponytail and fingerless gloves. Born in Hamburg, Germany, Lagerfeld was inspired to go into fashion when he accompanied his mother to a Dior fashion show as a child. He went on to win a womenswear design competition in 1954. He began his career in fashion in 1955 as an assistant to Pierre Balmain. His decision to helm Chanel, founded by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel, turned him into one of the most celebrated fashion designers of the 20th century. Lagerfeld was one of the most prolific and celebrated fashion designers of all time.
Alain Wertheimer, CEO of Chanel, said after Lagerfeld’s death announcement: “Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the House of Chanel’s success throughout the world.” Bernard Arnault, owner of the luxury giant LVMH – the most powerful man in fashion – said he was “infinitely saddened” by the loss of a “very dear friend” and a “creative genius”. The Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, Edward Enninful, called Lagerfeld “one of the greatest designers in the history of fashion.” Donatella Versace called him a genius who “touched the lives of so many,” especially her late brother Gianni Versace. Karl Lagerfeld once said: “I don’t want to be real in other people’s lives. I want to be an apparition.”