Longtime Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld dies

LONDON -- World-renowned fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld died in Paris on Tuesday morning, according to a statement from his eponymous brand.

"The House of KARL LAGERFELD shares, with deep emotion and sadness, the passing of its creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, on February 19, 2019, in Paris, France," reads the statement, posted on Lagerfeld's official Instagram account. "He was one of the most influential and celebrated designers of the 21st century and an iconic, universal symbol of style. Driven by a phenomenal sense of creativity, Karl was passionate, powerful and intensely curious. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy as one of the greatest designers of our time, and there are no words to express how much he will be missed."

The German-born, Paris-based couturier was the creative director of French fashion house Chanel from 1983 until his death. He also designed collections for Italian luxury label Fendi as well as his own brand.

Chanel later released a statement confirming Lagerfeld's death and crediting his "prolific creative mind" for reviving "the brand's codes created by Gabrielle Chanel."

"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," Chanel's CEO Alain Wertheimer said a statement Tuesday afternoon. "Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand."

Lagerfeld was widely recognized for his trademark look of dark suits, high collars, black sunglasses, fingerless gloves and his white hair neatly pulled back into a low ponytail.

He became known for his over-the-top, larger-than-life runway set designs at Chanel shows, including his recreation of a beach with actual waves, a fully-stocked supermarket with Chanel-branded food and the launch of a life-size mock rocket ship.

"Fashion show after fashion show, collection after collection, Karl Lagerfeld left his mark on the legend of Gabrielle Chanel and the history of the House of CHANEL," Bruno Pavlovsky, Chanel's president of fashion, said in a statement Tuesday. "He steadfastly promoted the talent and expertise of CHANEL's ateliers and Métiers d'Art, allowing this exceptional know-how to shine throughout the world. The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by -- to quote Karl -- 'continuing to embrace the present and invent the future.'"

The fashion guru was noticeably absent from Chanel's haute couture show during fashion week in Paris last month.

Though his exact age is unknown, Lagerfeld was believed to be around 85 years old at the time of his death.

A number of Lagerfeld's former associates and friends have posted tributes to the legendary designer on social media following the news of his death.

English fashion designer Victoria Beckham posted a photo of Lagerfeld on Instragram with the caption, "So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP."

Scottish hairstylist Sam McKnight, who has worked extensively with Chanel, also posted a photo of of the late designer on Instagram, writing, "Dear Karl, it has been an enormous pleasure. I'm honoured to have known you."

Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace, who is the chief designer of the Versace fashion house, posted a photo of herself with Lagerfeld on Instagram, writing that he was a "genius" and she will never forget his "incredible talent and endless inspiration."
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