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KARL LAGERFELD

Maison Valentino mourns the passing of Karl Lagerfeld. One of the true fashion greats, Lagerfeld, who was 85, worked tirelessly to bring his ever-evolving vision of chic to consumers worldwide, not only as the creative director of Chanel, a job he held for a stunning 36 years, but also as the creative director for fur and ready-to-wear at Fendi, and as the designer of his eponymous brand.

 

Lagerfeld was born in Germany in 1933, and began to make his mark on fashion at the tender age of 21, when he won the prize for best coat at the International Wool Secretariat. He soon took a job with the couture designer Pierre Balmain, in Paris, and shortly thereafter became the head designer for Jean Patou. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lagerfeld helped to spearhead the growth of the luxury ready-to-wear business via his work for Chloé; in 1983, he decamped for Chanel, taking the position that would loft him into the annals of fashion legend. Reviving the house's fortunes via his witty and up-to-date revisions of the Chanel signatures—the tweed suit, the camellia, the quilted bag, and more—he went on to make Chanel an international fashion lodestar, and turned himself into a pop culture icon in the process. Lagerfeld's personal style was an instantly recognizable as his fashion week spectacles du théâtre for Chanel were eye-popping and unforgettable—who can forget, for instance, the supermodels marching through Paris in a mock protest for women's rights? Ever ahead of the curve, that Chanel procession preceded by several years the Women's March and  #metoo.

 

Simply put, Lagerfeld was a fashion savant who loved luxury and style—but who was, in his own way, a man of the people, too. Over the course of his long career, he published a diet book, collaborated with H&M, and turned his beloved cat, Choupette, into a social media celebrity. Lagerfeld's ability to read the moment and translate it into the language of high-end style was unique, and will be sorely missed. And on a personal note, Mr. Valentino—a friend of Lagerfeld's since their days in the backrooms of Paris ateliers—wishes to add his own remembrance.

 

"Part of my youth went away with you," writes Mr. Valentino. "With whom can I now laugh and remember those happy and carefree moments spent at Fiacre or Flore, our first hopes, you at Balmain and me at Desses… And our arrivals in Rome, where I opened my first Maison de Couture, and where you arrived to Tiziani, a Roman couture house. You, who made me promise—unsuccessfully—never to withdraw."

 

Mr. Valentino continues: "Karl, my friend, Karl genio gigantesco… My sadness in infinite. Au Revoir, Karl!"

 

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