Karl Lagerfeld, the legendary designer who directed the Chanel fashion line, passed away at the age of 85 on Tuesday.
Former model and first lady Melania Trump joined the long list of celebrities and fashion industry players who mourned his passing.
First lady pays tribute
In tribute, the first lady shared a never-before-seen sketch of a custom outfit he had designed exclusively for her in 2017.
“Today the world lost a creative genius. We will miss you Karl! #RIPKarlLagerfeld,” she wrote on Tuesday.
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Trump’s post also included a photo of herself wearing the white belted skirt suit when she and President Donald Trump welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and wife Sara to the White House in Feb. 2017.
When some other designers notably refused to dress Melania Trump in protest of the 2016 election, Lagerfeld did not follow suit. “Fashion people are fashion, they are not politics,” he said in 2017.
Icon of the fashion industry
Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany in either 1933 or 1938 — the designer always played coy with his actual age — and began to rise in the ranks of the fashion industry by the mid-1950s.
The often outspoken designer eventually became just as well known for his trademark style of dress — dark sunglasses, ponytail and high-collared suits — as he was for the designs he created.
He began to make a name for himself with luxury French label Chloe and became director of the luxurious Italian furrier Fendi in the 1970s. In the early 1980s, he became the creative director of Chanel, reviving the famed Paris fashion house from years of dormancy after the death of its iconic founder, Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel.
Lagerfeld successfully modernized Chanel’s signature looks, adding youthful touches and reinvigorating interest in the brand.
“An extraordinary creative individual, Lagerfeld reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel: the Chanel jacket and suit, the little black dress, the precious tweeds, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, the pearls and costume jewelry,” Chanel said in a statement confirming his death.
“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,” said Chanel CEO Alain Wertheimer. “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.”