There are some things we just know are going to stay on this earth forever, like silica packets, those little white tables that save a pizza from getting smushed in a box, Betty White, and up until this morning, Karl Lagerfeld. I can’t be the only one who thought that long after we all turn to dust, Karl will sashay across the land, slightly dropping his signature sunglasses, only to judge the hideous and drab post-apocalyptic landscape before him. But we were all wrong, because Karl died today in Paris at 85.
Last month, Karl didn’t grace the eyes of his subjects with his regal presence at the end of the Chanel couture show in Paris. I figured at the time that after ruling the fashion world for ten thousands years, Karl finally got tired of producing a manufactured smile as though he gives a shit what the audience thinks as he takes in the applause during the finale. But it turns out, Karl wasn’t doing well at all and had pancreatic cancer. Chanel confirmed the death of Karl with this statement:
“It is with deep sadness that the house of Chanel announces the passing of Karl Lagerfeld.
A prolific creative mind with endless imagination, Karl Lagerfeld explored many artistic horizons, including photography and short films. The house of Chanel benefited from his talent for all the branding campaigns related to fashion since 1987. Finally, one cannot refer to Karl Lagerfeld without mentioning his innate sense of repartee and self-mockery.”
Virginie Viard, who is the director of Chanel’s creation studio and has worked closely with him for 30 years, will take over at Chanel.
Karl’s born name is Karl Otto Lagerfeldt. His family spelled their last name two ways: Lagerfeldt and Lagerfeld. Karl took the latter because he felt it sounded more commercial. Karl’s father was an evaporated milk mogul in Germany, which may explain that luminous field of sparkling evaporated milk on his head. Karl’s road to ruling the fashion game started when he got a job as Pierre Balmain’s assistant after winning a design competition in 1955. Through the 60s and 70s, Karl designed for several fashion houses including Chloe and Fendi, which he remained the creative director of until his death. And in 1983, a little over a decade after Coco Chanel died, he joined forces with Chanel and slathered the brand with diamond-encrusted luxury.
Every now and again, someone will write me asking me why I call Karl “Kunty Karl,” and I immediately welcome them as a brand new member to the internet. Because Karl didn’t only make a major mark on fashion, he made a major mark on messiness too. Kunty Karl has long been known for the nuggets of foolery that effortlessly fell out of his mouth. We already know how he felt about Adele, #MeToo, accused rapist Dominique Strauss, and Pippa Middleton, but here’s some other pure Kunty Karl quotes:
On short men: “The worst is ugly short men. Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life – to be born short. I have never been friends with a short man in my life. Don’t trust them; they are mean, and they want to kill you.”
On tattoos: “I think tattoos are horrible. It’s like living in a Pucci dress full-time. If you’re young and tight, maybe it’s OK, but…”
On ugly people: “I hate ugly people. Very depressing.”
On Russian men: “If I was a woman in Russia I would be a lesbian, as the men are very ugly. There are a few handsome ones, like Naomi Campbell’s boyfriend, but there you see the most beautiful women and the most horrible men.”
On sweatpants: “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
And yes, I copy + pasted that last one while wearing sweats, and he was 100% right.
Karl is survived by his soulmate Choupette Lagerfeld, who has, is, and will forever live a perfect life of pampered luxury and will always be surrounded by tall, gorgeous, non-sweatpants wearing skinnies (I’m sure Karl put that in his will).
In case you haven’t been on Instagram today, pretty much every member of the fashion community is wearing their Chanel mourning veil and searched their picture archives for the perfect picture of themselves and Karl to post in his memory. So I’m sure they’re going to turn it out at his funeral, but although the entire fashion world will probably be there, one iconic member won’t: Karl himself! Karl hated funerals, so when they all strut into the church, they’ll find an almost empty Chanel coffin with a single note in it that will read: “Oh, Anna [Wintour], go home and change. That suit looks dreadful on you.”