7 Jul. 2004
Haute-couture designer Karl Lagerfeld, artistic director at Chanel and an icon of the fashion industry with his extravagant outfits and striking catwalks, died February 19 aged 85. The German designer was best known for his association with France's Chanel, dating back to 1983. The brand, the legend now goes, risked becoming the preserve of monied grannies before he arrived, slashing hemlines and adding glitz to the prim tweed suits of what is now one of the world's most valuable couture houses. A craftsman who combined artistic instinct, business acumen and commensurate ego, Lagerfeld was known for his strikingly visual fashion show displays. But Lagerfeld, who simultaneously churned out collections for LVMH's Fendi and his eponymous label was almost a brand in his own right. Sporting dark suits, white, ponytailed hair and tinted sunglasses that made him instantly recognizable, an irreverent wit was also part of a carefully crafted persona. "I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that," runs one legendary quote attributed to him, and often recycled to convey the person he liked to play. "It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long."