It was a moment time stood still – unheard of in the fast-paced, frentic frenzy of the first day of Milan Fashion Week. Yet the passing of Karl Lagerfeld – Creative Director of Chanel since 1983 – on Tuesday 19 February in Paris at the age of 85 spun the collective fashion world off its axis.
Designers, models, hair and make-up artists and mentees alike joined those paying tribute, all echoing the same sentiment, “We thought you were immortal.” Tom Ford admitted, “I will miss Karl. I will miss just knowing that Karl is somewhere in the world designing and quipping as he always has. He seemed permanent. A fundamental part of fashion and of the world. It is strange that he is no longer with us. I am deeply sad that he is gone.”
Donatella Versace agreed, “Your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you.”
And there were many more whose lives and careers Karl had transformed. Among them was Julien Macdonald, who recalled, “I am honoured to have been Karl’s protégé from 1994-1997 while working with him designing knitwear at Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld. A true genius and visionary, he will be forever missed but never forgotten.”
Another of his rising stars is Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing, who called Karl “a source of inspiration and motivation” and mourned, “How can one describe with words losing the person he looks up to and aspires to the most? A true legend that never played by the rules but also set most of those we follow today. A person who put so much of his heart into his work that the world fell in love with him for generations. You have been a school for all of us, you will always be present, reminding and defining what fashion is. Au revoir à un vrai Monsieur, nous t’aimerons pour toujours.”
Among the most heartbroken was Cara Delevingne, who acknowlegded, “He changed my life, he believed in me when so many others didn’t including myself. He also introduced me to some of the most important and special people in my life. He is a visionary, a genius but more than that – a dear friend. Outside of fashion, he was one of the most interesting and caring men I have ever met. I am so lucky and grateful to have had him in my life, worked with him and been able to spend time with him. His legacy will live on forever. I miss you more than I could ever try and describe. All I can say is thank for the bottom of my heart.”
Close friend and celebrity make-up artist Charlotte Tilbury shared this sadness: “Beyond devastated to hear that my darling friend and legendary genius, Karl Lagerfeld, has passed away. Karl was a true artist and visionary, and was one of the most magical, inspiring, mesmeric beings to know and work with. His awe-inspiring presence and legacy in fashion and life will be eternal. I will miss you, my darling friend, and treasure the amazing, joyful and fun memories we made together.”
Finally our beloved Carla Vanni, Grazia International Editor in Chief, will remember Karl as, “a great friend, a great genius.” Never has there been a legacy more powerful.
Photos: Getty Images and supplied