Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel creative director, has passed away suddenly at the age of 85


Karl Lagerfeld has passed away. I was not prepared for this!! I thought he would be around for many more years. I covered one of his interviews just a few months ago, and he sounded sharp as a tack. He was a real workhorse too, putting out huge Chanel collections, resort collections and various other side projects, some for Chanel. He was 85 years old and he is survived by his beloved cat Choupette. He once said that Choupette is like a daughter to him.

Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most prolific and widely popular designers of the 20th and 21st centuries, died in Paris. He was 85.

Lagerfeld was Creative Director of Chanel, the French house founded by Gabrielle Chanel, for an era-defining, age-defying 36 years. Upon assuming the reins in 1983, Lagerfeld swiftly revived Chanel, reinterpreting the house founder’s iconic tweed skirt suits, little black dresses, and quilted handbags. He did it via the lens of hip-hop one season and California surfer chicks the next—he was a pop culture savant—without ever forgetting what the revolutionary Coco stood for: independence, freedom, and modernity.

In more recent years, as the company’s fortunes grew and grew, Lagerfeld became known for the lavish Grand Palais sets he conceived for the six Chanel collections he designed a year. There was a rocket ship, a reproduction of the Eiffel Tower, and a supermarché stocked strictly with Chanel-brand products. Florence Welch sang on the half-shell at the Spring 2012 show. Most memorable of all was the improbable giant iceberg from Scandinavia that Chanel shipped across the continent for the Fall 2010 show. Lagerfeld also pioneered the concept of the traveling pre-season show. The Karl caravan has landed variously in Versailles; Linlithgow, Scotland; Dallas; Seoul; and, spectacularly, Havana, Cuba.

[From Vogue]

This will rock the House of Chanel, and it will rock the fashion world entirely. Chanel is one of the biggest labels in the world, and I honestly predict a round of designer/creative director musical chairs. I feel like there will be so many shifts as Chanel will likely try to pick the biggest name possible to take over Karl’s BIG shoes. I also, of course, wonder what will happen to Choupette. Karl had so many staffers, I feel like some assistant will probably “inherit” Choupette.

Karl Lagerfelds exhibition 'Parallele Gegensaetze'

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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118 Responses to “Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel creative director, has passed away suddenly at the age of 85”

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  1. Zapp Brannigan says:

    RIP Karl and love to Choupette, hope she has someone to give her extra cuddles right now.

    • Megan says:

      He probably left Coupette everything. She can afford all the cuddles she wants.

      • Felicia says:

        You can’t leave everything to an animal in France, so Choupette didn’t inherit Karl’s fortune.

        It seems weird to think of him with brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews etc, but I’m sure he probably has actual blood family who will inherit and also adopt Choupette.

      • Nicole(the Cdn one) says:

        In Canada a pet cannot inherit but you can create a legal trust for which the cat is the beneficiary and then leave everything (or whatever you deem appropriate) to the trust.

        I have no doubt that someone as controlling as Karl would not have made express plans for the care of a beloved companion.

    • tealily says:

      My first thought when I saw the headline was “What will happen to Choupette???”

      • Astrid says:

        me too!

      • Sharon Lea says:

        Me too, it would be nice if it was made known who the cat went to.

      • Becks says:

        Me too!! This is such sad news 🙁

      • Beatrice says:

        Me too and I think it’s sweet that so many people have thought of his beloved Choupette. RIP Karl–loved you so much.

      • samipup says:

        Me too! RIP he does leave a big gap, he was a genius.

      • Fluffy Princess says:

        Me too!

        Also, while he was alive Choupette had her own product sponsors and even a “make up” line with shiseido — She “earned” millions of dollars/francs.

        Do you think that money will be used to keep her bills paid?

      • MrsK says:

        Maybe she’ll go back to her first daddy, the one he catnapped her from. Or maybe his current assistant/companion or his godson.

        He loved her so much, he even wanted her cremated remains to be scattered along with his and his mother’s: “I’ve asked to be cremated and want my ashes to be scattered along with my mother’s … and Choupette’s, if she dies before I do.”

  2. shocked says:

    wow I’m speechless

    • Ifeoma says:

      Me too. This is so shocking. RIP Karl.

    • Josephine says:

      Pancreatic cancer moves very quickly, and he strikes me as a man who would not reveal any illness let alone cancer.

      • Jan90067 says:

        My uncle died of that. 9 mos. from diagnosis till the end. My friend’s mom had only 6 mos. It’s a horrible, horrible disease.

        RIP Karl. Condolences to his family, and Choupette. She *will* be grieving, too.

      • Idiotsgalore says:

        Was it confirmed he passed from cancer? I haven’t read that anywhere

      • Vizia says:

        It’s common for there to be no symptoms till it’s too late, with pancreatic.

      • Josephine says:

        @ Idiotsgalore – I think the rumor is pancreatic cancer although not sure if that’s from a credible source. Just seems awfully specific for a rumor. No matter what it was, I just don’t see him revealing anything about his health.

  3. Snazzy says:

    I am shocked by his mortality. I know it’s stupid and I said this on the Keira thread, but I was sure he would outlive us all

    • mm11 says:

      Same! I thought he would die in his 90s or something like that.

      • SM says:

        I thought he is immortal. Like a vampire or something. This is really bizarre. However, I feel uncomfortable with all this pouring sympathy for a effing cat. That cat has much better like than most of us. It will be fine. It is not a parent less child with no food on a table or actual human childeren locked in an actual animal cage. Take it down a notch, people.

      • OriginalLala says:

        @SM you sounds like a really empathetic and compassionate person……

        He always talked about how much he loved Choupette and that she was his family. Animals love, animals grieve. If there was a child involved we would be sad for the kid..it’s not an either or situation.

      • Jerusha says:

        In my experience it’s possible to be concerned about our locking children in cages and about the welfare of a companion animal who has just lost her human. Choupette was very much loved and spent her 6 1/2 years of life with Karl. I hope whoever has her now loves her and is a familiar figure. Sorry, but I don’t find it shocking that people aren’t commenting about children in cages on a post about Karl Lagerfeld’s death.

      • Idiotsgalore says:

        What’s wrong with loving an animal?? Geez!!

      • Catlady says:

        When you use “it” to describe Choupette, it is a testament to your lack of understanding, and disconnect from, the joys of an animal companion. Choupette is a “she” and a beloved, valued family member. People with a heart and compassion will always be concerned for her welfare. Calling her “it” is likening her to a meaningless chair or inanimate object. She is a no such thing. Choupette is a sentient being that can feel and express all the same emotions that humans do.

      • Megan says:

        Honestly, if I died, I think people would ask about how my cat was taking it before they asked about my husband. That little fluff ball needs me as much as I need her.

      • Jaded says:

        @SM: You clearly don’t love animals if you have to refer to a loving companion pet as an “effing cat”. I have loved every pet I’ve had and cried buckets when they passed. In a bitchy, difficult world like high fashion filled with phonies and drama queens, having a pet who loves you unconditionally can bring great comfort.

        I hope Choupette finds someone who will love her as unconditionally as Karl did.

      • Catt Berlin George says:

        I don’t appreciate you telling us to ‘take it down a notch’ regarding how we feel about Karl’s cat and her welfare. You can feel how you want about it but don’t tell us to feel less. If it irritates you that the cat has ‘so much’ that’s about you, not the other commenters on here that feel differently.

      • Susan says:

        @SM, I use to think like you that all these pet lovers are over the top and you can usually find me sneering at them.Well, I saw the light when I lost my dog.Tinkerbell – she had become part of the family without me realising it and the pain…… pets are family

    • oddly says:

      A friend died not long ago , we all knew her health was precarious for many years so were not entirely shocked , she always talked about her beloved dog . One of the first things we all said was what about her dog? Everyone was so happy at the memorial service to know he had gone to live with her niece on her dairy farm , new photos of him prancing around the farm as happy as a clam brought tears to all our eyes. She also loved dragonflies and at the service her brother asked us to remember Meg everytime we saw a dragonfly , each time I see one now I smile remembering lovely Meg.

  4. minx says:

    Very productive life until a ripe old age. That’s admirable.

  5. Vexa says:

    I really did enjoy Karl, he was such a delightful grump. I hope we see a lot of Chanel from the archives in his honour this Sunday at the Oscars.

    • Alyse says:

      I will miss his interviews!!

      Hopefully there’ll be some nice nods to him at Oscars & Met Gala this year.

      Whether you loved him or hated (or both). no denying he was an absolute icon in fashion

  6. Nev says:

    End of an era.
    Some of the most lovely shows ever.

  7. Milla says:

    I did not see that one coming any time soon. His poor kitten. He was not the best person but his work ethic was always admirable. Rest in peace.

  8. Rapunzel says:

    Choupette will likely get all the money. Kitty needs her lifestyle maintained.

    Kunty Karl (tm Micheal K at Dlisted) was kunty till the end. Who will tell all the size 0 Chanel models that they’re fat now? He was a unique, complicated, flawed, funny, genius, and a man who contributed to the best and worst parts of high fashion in lasting ways. Chanel’s greatest loss since CoCo herself.

  9. mm11 says:

    Virginie Viard will be the artistic director of Chanel, a very good choice she’s been working alongside Karl for over 30 years. Even though some of the thing he has said we’re problematic his influence over fashion is undeniable and he will we missed. He redefined fashion shows and the front rows.

    • Coz' says:

      Is it official? I tried to look it up but didn”t find anything.

    • Coz' says:

      It was just announced on French publications. You were right. Vogue Spain gets good scoops 🙂

    • Milla says:

      Wow imagine the pressure. But Karl was organized i am somehow sure it is gonna work.

    • SK says:

      I actually prefer this choice to bringing in some other famous designer. She knows the aesthetic, she has been a big part of creating it for a long time. I glad they promoted from within.

      It was announced by Chanel on Instagram – for those asking below – and also released to various publications.

  10. Eleonor says:

    My first thought was: Choupette!
    RIP uncle Karl

  11. Lightpurple says:

    My thoughts and prayers are with Choupette at this most difficult time

    • Michelle says:

      SAME!!! I don’t care about his human family members, I just hope Choupette is well taken care of!

  12. OriginalLala says:

    poor Choupette, I hope someone who loves her takes her in

  13. Jequill says:

    Not a surprise to me as it was known here in France he had pancreas cancer. It was announced in january as he didn’t attended the Fashion Week.
    Still, it is a sad news, I am not a fan of his works but he was a great businessman.

    • Pringer says:

      Oh my didn’t know he was down with cancer. Oh cancer sucks! RIP Karl they don’t make them like you anymore you will surely be missed

    • Nacho_friend says:

      He did the Chanel couture show, he just didn’t bow. That was the only sign he wasn’t feeling well

  14. Mia4s says:

    RIP. It will be interesting to see what succession plan was in place at House of Chanel. I wonder if we will see a shift away from Karl’s girls or if it will be business as usual. Very interesting.

    I hope Choupette is cared for of course….but now I need to go scream into the void that a cat is about to inherit more money than I will make in my lifetime. 😱

    • Div says:

      I imagine Karl’s godson will probably be his beneficiary and perhaps the family of his late partner whom he was with for quite a long time (I’m pretty sure I remember reading that he was still close with them, but not his sisters), but I imagine Choupette will still be very well taken care of regardless.

      I always cackled at the story of how he got Choupette. Apparently it was a friend’s kitten and they left it for him to catsit for months, and then he refused to give it back.

      • Mia4s says:

        Oh I know @Div….but I’m still pretty sure Choupette is going to have more money than any of us ever will! LOL! 😉

      • Div says:

        Diamond collars and caviar for life 🙂

      • SK says:

        Choupette first belonged to the long time model (and muse to Karl), Baptiste Giabiconi. Karl catsitted her over a holiday in 2011 and when Baptiste returned he was informed that Karl would be keeping the cat, as he had fallen in love with her.
        I imagine it would have been hard/impossible to say no to that, given their professional relationship but I also think they were friends so hopefully it was friendly.
        No one could take my cats from me!!

      • Lady D says:

        I couldn’t/wouldn’t leave my cats alone for months. Just wouldn’t happen.

    • Snowflake says:

      Lololol 😂

    • SK says:

      Virginie Viard is taking over. She is the director of CHANEL’s fashion creation studio and has been his right hand woman / closest collaborator for 30+ years. They announced it at the end of their obit to him on their Instagram page. She has had a big hand in everything he’s done for decades so I think it’s pretty safe. I’m glad they promoted from within.
      PS: I see there is another SK upthread. That’s weird… been SK for years. Has there been two of us for long?

  15. lower case lila says:

    Poor Choupette. I admired his work, but he sometimes was a bit cruel with his words. It will be interesting to see who heads up Chanel next.

  16. manda says:

    I was just thinking about Karl Lagerfeld because I use the Collosol Eau de Lait, which I read once that he used to bathe in. I’m not sure if I’m a fan of his, he seemed kind of mean, but he was entertaining.

    I’m happy for him that he went before Choupette.

  17. Coz' says:

    Karl didn’t show up for the Haute Couture show last month and the French press has been wondering about his health ever since.
    And looking at all the very long very in-depth obituaries I’ve read online, I feel like journalists reworked the articles in the last few weeks.
    I’m shocked but really not surprised.

  18. Lightpurple says:

    Karl Lagerfeld and Lee Radziwill. That’s one major party going on.

  19. Elena says:

    Pancreatic cancer is vicious. RIP

  20. Caroline says:

    He was an icon. RIP

  21. Helen says:

    he was an icon, michael kors wishes he was as interesting and hilarious as karl! the end of an era, not many head of fashion houses will ever be as interesting as karl again.

    i wonder how old choupette is now, she has quite a fortune to enjoy now!

  22. Kara says:

    This isn’t sudden at all really. He’s been sick for months and has skipped out on the last couple Chanel/Fendi shows.

    As huge a legacy he will have, he was also a miserable mean bastard, especially after he lost weight.

    • supersoft says:

      As far as i remember his doctors told him to lose weight. With that amount of weight loss i would be grumpy as hell, too. 😉

  23. Kk2 says:

    I am certain there is a succession plan is place. He was 85 and a smart enough business man to plan for this. No one lives forever.

    I mean, he was old and lived a full life. RIP to him. May his successor have apparently rare confidence in their ability to design clothes that look nice on models with a BMI over 17.

    • SK says:

      Virginie Viard is taking over. It was obviously already planned and they’ve just put the succession plan into effect. She is (now was?) the director of CHANEL’s fashion creation studio and has been his right hand woman / closest collaborator for 30+ years. They announced it at the end of their obit to him on their Instagram page. She has had a big hand in everything he’s done for decades so I think it’s pretty safe. Personally, I’m glad they promoted from within. It will be interesting to see where she takes CHANEL without him.

  24. Sunnee says:

    I dressed up as Karl L last Halloween. I thought I was so clever until I ran into someone that night who went the extra mile and had a Choupette in her arms. She was the hit of the party. He was more than an influencer. He was an icon.

    • SK says:

      My two girlfriends went as Karl and Choupette and it was amazing!! Choupette was very high fashion, wearing a short platinum bob wig, very high end looking white clothes, with her high fashion ears and whiskers, a beautiful fluffy white tail, and of course her beautiful collar. It was brilliant!

  25. Talie says:

    Well, he died as he wished, working till the end…just like Chanel did.

  26. Mellie says:

    I just read some of the mean things he said about fat people, short people etc… I’m sorry for the cat’s loss, but he doesn’t sound like a very nice person. I love fashion, but I dislike a-holes.

    • Mellie says:

      Never mind about the cat, I see the cat predeceased him, I’m sorry to all his thin friends.

    • Lady D says:

      He was a bully and a racist.

    • Beach Dreams says:

      He was a terrible person, right up there with Galliano, Stefano Gabbana and Coco Chanel herself. But of course many people won’t let that fact get in the way of his ~artistry~. The fashion industry certainly attracts the winning personalities…

  27. An18 says:

    Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants. ~ Karl Lagerfeld

  28. Veronica S. says:

    Call me a cynic, but I’ll believe it when I see it. He probably just grew tired of the prosthetics and heavy makeup and has returned to his reclusive Eastern European villa to wait out the rest of this century. He’ll return in 2100 when long faded from public memory and revived and refreshed of youth from the blood of size 0 models.

  29. Lucy says:

    How unexpected. May he rest in peace.

  30. Valiantly Varnished says:

    I can’t summon any real sadness because Karl was frankly terrible. That’s just a fact. I do feel sorry for poor Choupette and the Chanel house who will have a hard time replacing him. He was horrible but he was a good designer.

  31. Rando says:

    Talented or not, he was very open about his misogyny and bigotry towards people and that’s never in style. No luxury brand is important enough to tolerate his behaviour and I won’t miss hearing about his socially accepted hatred.

    • wtf says:

      I came here to say the same thing, but you said it better.

    • Dee Kay says:

      Yes thank you for saying it. There is a lot to admire about KL and a lot to despise about him. Let’s not get confused about everything he was.

      • Caroline says:

        @rando and @valiantly and @DeeKay

        thank you for saying all this. He was such an awful human I find it really disturbing that it was tolerated (celebrated?) because of whatever “talent” he was perceived to have. I hope his afterlife is filled with all the people he put down as less-than.

  32. Mrs. Peel says:

    From The Guardian “At the couture show in January his long-term righthand woman, Virginie Viard, appeared hand-in-hand with the season’s couture bride to greet the audience, at Lagerfeld’s request to “represent him”. Chanel confirmed on Tuesday that Viard “has been entrusted by [Chanel chief executive] Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on”.
    Perhaps he left his fortune and creative legacy to Viard?

    • Prairiegirl says:

      Imagine the pressure living up to the creative genius of (1) Gabrielle Chanel and (2) Karl Lagerfeld. Her first show will make or break her.

  33. Dahlia1947 says:

    I hope the kitty will be well taken care of!

  34. HeyThere! says:

    He bullied women by name to global media outlets, so yeah. I feel bad for the cat.

  35. Canber says:

    At 85 you just die. You don’t “pass away suddenly”.

    • Jaded says:

      What a silly comment – neither of my parents, who both made it past 85, “just died”, they both went slowly – my father of heart disease and my mother of an ongoing abdominal infection.

      And you can pass away suddenly of many things – stroke, heart attack, aneurysm come to mind.

      • Canber says:

        Meh, I get the difference between an agonizing disease and an aneurysm. But at 85 both are to be expected.

  36. Sue s says:

    Sorry for his cat, I’m sure she will missed being his pet. But this guy was a d!ck. He is one of these people who treat their pets better than people. He didnt use his platform for anything good and unselfish. He has said some really messed up stuff in the last few years. These old white men who think they know it all and run it all need to go. Bye felicia..

    • Carmen says:

      Well… I also treat my pets better than most people. Because most people are dicks and my pets are not.

  37. pollyv says:

    RIP Karl. It makes me mad when I see publications refer to Choupette as a Siamese. She is clearly a tortie Birman. As a Birman mom, I know these things, dammit.

  38. Pandy says:

    Condolences to Choupette. On a snarky note – saw his line of purses on Saturday. Hideous. All giant bows. He hit his best before date for sure.

  39. Winnie Cooper's Mom says:

    In 2012, KL said, “The thing at the moment is Adele. She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.” Umm, no sir. You don’t get away with insults by sweeping up a compliment at the end. Didn’t appreciate his arrogance and put-downs of others whom he deemed unfit according to his standards. I think in his mind, he was a god. Just because one does legendary things in their life, it doesn’t make them above all the rest of us.

  40. Catlady says:

    According to a French article (translated) Lagerfeld had arrangements for Choupette made in the event of his death:
    “It’s irresistible,” commented Kaiser on the set of Marc-Olivier Fogiel’s show “Le Divan” on February 24, 2015. Asked by the host about the place this long-haired cat was taking in his life, She said: “She has her own little fortune, she is an heiress, and if anything happens to me, the person who looks after her will not be in misery. the money I do not take it, it’s put on purpose for her … Choupette is a rich girl. ”

    The emblematic couturier of the Chanel house also confirmed more recently that he had designated Choupette as official heir, “among others”. “Do not worry, there is enough for everyone,” he joked in an interview with the magazine Numero published on April 10, 2018. And when the journalist raised the point that it is forbidden in France to bequeath anything to an animal, Karl Lagerfeld answered: “That’s good, because I’m not French.”

  41. Lucy2 says:

    Kaiser, your Choupette tweet is on the ICanHazCheezeburger FB page.

    Karl was not a kind man, but my sympathies to those who are mourning him. Poor kitty too, hope she goes to a loving home.

  42. Lavinia says:

    Just wanted to chime in to share a personal story. I met Karl when I was 14 years old. He was funny, biting, a genius with a work ethic that exhausts me even to think about now. He was also very, very kind, at least to me. I worked for him for a few years in the holidays and he always took an interest in what I was doing, how school was going and giving me advice on college and work (and dating!). He had such style and I loved him so, so much. Everyone that worked for him loved and admired him and that is proven by the fact that 25 years later many of the same people are still there, including Virginie, whom he adored. Yes, he said mean things and I don’t agree with that at all, but he wasn’t a mean person, if that makes any sense. He was a true original and he was an inspiration. The world is a little bit less fun without him in it.

    • Dara says:

      Thank you Lavinia, it makes perfect sense.

      • Lavinia says:

        Thank YOU! I guess I just wanted to point out that a lot of his external personality was an act, branding so to speak. It speaks volumes that these people at all these houses have worked for him for decades and loved him like they did. He was certainly complicated. But who isn’t? And btw, I had a lot of baby-fat at the time, I was chubby, and not only did he made clothes for me (!) for my birthday, he also never once said anything unkind, only encouraged me to be who I was and believe in myself. One time I was crying because someone in school had been taunting me about being plus sized and he was furious at them. So….I guess it’s complicated. But he knew how to love and build people up. Now that I’m in my 40s, I see how rare that is.

      • Christin says:

        @Lavinia – Thank you for sharing a first-hand account of KL. It is nice to know how he treated you and others, given the public comments he made.

        And, your user name is the name of my mother’s good childhood friend. I love that name!

  43. Ana says:

    I was truly concerned for Chouppette for a moment…then I remembered she is a rich girl and she will be all right.

  44. SpillDatT says:

    The man had many problematic views, but even then I couldn’t outright hate him…I know, I know his OTT personality, growing up with his presence in the fashion world, & recently his love for Choupette just always made me never hate him.

    And I say it as someone who he’d absolutely loathe: fat, overweight with zero fashion sense LOL

    The news still shocked me though. It’s going to chaos at Chanel, Fendi etc.

    But my first thought was def. for Choupette. The man loved that cat. Really, really, really loved that cat. And while the cat will inherit bazillions, I doubt she will be ever loved as much as Karl loved her, and she must miss him.

    God, I’m actually crying thinking of the cat missing him.

  45. Daurrie says:

    I thought he could have another five years of life with proper health care. No one listened…
    Transvestigation Transpocalypse Gender Inversion Kaia Gerber Cindy Crawford Clone
    All we can do at this point is bless the archive Chanel/Lagerfeld…
    Karl Lagerfeld dead aged 85 – Chanel designer dies in hospital after secret cancer battle
    Published on Feb 19, 2019
    1:44 PM

  46. Sil says:

    Thank goodness there is one less asshole in this world.
    What he did for women held us back not place us forward.
    He was a gross being with nothing but materialistic perspectives and narrow views on beauty.
    Peace to all.