Death of a fashion icon

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died aged 85. His career began when he was 20 and competed in a fashion contest with a design for a coat. After that his rise in fashion was unstoppable and he led great fashion houses like Chanel to success. He also caused a stir with outspoken remarks. The press pays tribute but also voices criticism.

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Izvestia (RU) /

A knack for knees

Writing in Izvestia fashion designer Igor Chapurin sees a rejuvenation of fashion as Lagerfeld's main achievement:

“What was his secret? As he himself said: 'I find it uninteresting to dress the friends of Chanel and their contemporaries. I want to dress their granddaughters.' He enchanted a new generation and thus triggered a revolution in fashion. Now all the old brands target the young - Lagerfeld did this right from the start. There was a time when knees were deemed the most unattractive part of a woman's body. But almost all of Lagerfeld's dresses were minis, and for a long time he made Chanel products shorter and shorter, which upset critics and former admirers but secured a new audience for the brand.”

Contrepoints (FR) /

Chanel turned on its head

Not just Chanel owes much to Karl Lagerfeld, writes luxury goods expert Jean-Noël Kapferer in Contrepoints:

“As artistic director it was he who ensured the commercial and financial success without which there can be no success at all, and it was he who made Chanel the symbol of French fashion and elegance. What was his secret? ... He ranted, raved, and turned the place on its head. Because if you respect the large fashion houses and their heritage too much, you end up embalming them, burying them, freezing them solid. What was needed was for this man who was both irreverent and respectful to do what he himself said, namely 'make Coco Chanel turn in her grave'. ... Lagerfeld also pointed the way for other artistic directors: for example John Galliano at Dior and more recently Alessandro Michele at Gucci.”

The Independent (GB) /

All too often tactless and offensive

Lagerfeld often made shocking statements on political and social issues, The Independent recalls:

“Throughout his career, Lagerfeld built a persona out of making what The New York Times once called 'tactless and offensive comments'. Those comments were aimed at a variety of targets, from migrants to fat people and models complaining of sexual harassment. … People often treated his outbursts as funny soundbites. ... It can be hard to look back and challenge those narratives, especially as it forces us to acknowledge a person’s duality - namely, that someone can be a talented designer who also spreads inflammatory opinions.”