karl lagerfield

AFP

Karl Lagerfeld pronounced dead at the age of 85

The news comes weeks after he uncharacteristically missed a string of fashion shows.

karl lagerfield

AFP

Superstar designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85, his fashion label Chanel confirmed on Tuesday. 

The announcement came just weeks after the man known as the “Kaiser” in the industry did not appear at shows during Paris Haute Couture week for Chanel, which he has led since 1983.

Karl Lagerfeld pulled out of two Chanel Paris haute couture fashion shows in January, with the label announcing the veteran designer “was tired this morning”.

As the French capital was hit by a snowstorm, the 85-year-old creator left his studio head Virginie Viard to take the bow for him at the end of his spring-summer collection.

The no-show set off speculation that Lagerfeld, known as the “Kaiser” who has ruled over fashion for a large part of the past half century, may be about to step back.

With fashionistas expecting the traditional theatrical reveal at the end of the show, with Lagerfeld appearing somewhere on the extravagant set, a Chanel executive emerged in his stead to announce the couturier’s absence.

He said Lagerfeld would be at a later, second show for super-rich clientele.

But a Chanel spokeswoman later told AFP the designer was not able to attend that show either. 

Executives told AFP that Lagerfeld never made it as far as the Grand Palais where his collection was to be shown on a vast palm tree-fringed set styled after the gardens of an Italian villa.

One veteran critic told AFP she could not remember Lagerfeld ever having missed a Chanel Paris show in four decades at the helm of the couture house.

Lagerfeld himself said in 2015 that he “has never thought of retiring”, and is understood to have carte blanche from Chanel’s owners to choose when he wants to step down.

The prolific German has left many younger creators in the dust, turning out collections season after season for Fendi and his own label, as well as Chanel.

In recent years, Lagerfeld has visibly weakened, but his extraordinary creative stamina showed little sign of flagging, with a joyously zingy beach-set collection that was one of the highlights of the previous Paris fashion week.