On 19 February 2019, Karl Lagerfeld was dead of pancreatic cancer in a hospital in Paris.
Shocking may not be the right word to describe the sudden death of Karl Lagerfeld.
When someone existed in the world of fashion, a world of change for so long and his appearance so consistent, it started to give one the impression that it will be forever. Until it's not, reminding us that death is real, is there, always there waiting, and once he decides to pay you visit, you can not say No.
Not even Kaiser.
Since 1983, Karl Lagerfeld's name was connected with Maison Coco Chanel, the most famous haute couture house in the world which by then had remained but legend and memories.
Karl saved Chanel, like he did with Chloé and Fendi, and transfered Chanel into the most successful haute couture house.
"My job is not to do what she did, but what she would have done," had been the formula of Karl Lagerfeld. If Coco Chanel would have been alive, she may not have agreed at all, at least most of the times. For someone so passionately and obsessively searching for simplicity and intentional poverty, Karl Lagerfeld's interpretation was too baroquely flamboyant.
He made Chanel modern, yes; he made Chanel relevant, yes; he made Chanel desirable, yes, to the satisfaction of Bernard Arnault, the owner of LVMH who owns Coco Chanel and Fendi, as well as the famous and infamous buyers around the world from Hollywood Mansions to Russian yachts to Arabian Palaces to Chinese Clubs.
Chanel became so successful that Karl Lagerfeld had no choice but became enormously successful as the man behind Chanel, and unusually, he was satisfied, satisfied being recognised in the name of a woman, satisfied living in the shadow of a legend. Like he himself stated more than one time, he is a mercenary at heart, he does not care about marketing, public relations and all other monetary matters concerning a brand, he only wants to design. It doesn't matter if it is Chloé, or Fendi, or even Chanel, as long as he is paid, and paid well, he will do his job, and he will do it well.
Is Karl Lagerfel elegant?
In his own manners, with his French Baroque powered white pony tail, his high collars, his wide cravate, his fancy fans, his dark sunglasses and fingerless gloves, his countless iPad and iPhones all organised with musics of different moods, together with a white Birman cat with an exotic name of Choupette, who lived with him, modelled for him, inspired him, Karl Lagerfeld has perfected the art of eccentric elegance, the art of mannerism.
And he hates flip flops, bikinis, tatoos and jogging pants, some of the most vulgar phenomenon in fashion.
So yes, Karl Lagerfeld is elegant.
According to his will, Karl Lagerfeld's body will be cremated today as he doesn't like burial, and his ashes will be scattered close to those of his mother and his great love Jacques de Bascher.
For a man who dedicates his life to beauty, fire would be a much more elegant choice than earth, a cold cage with the inevitable invasion of insects.
The fire will take his body away: "je veux juste disparaître comme les animaux de la foret vierge." (I just want to disappear like the animals of the green forest.).
But his soul, invisible, insouciant, will be somewhere, intact, immortal.
"Je n'aime pas les enterrements. Je veux garder l'image de la dernière fois que j'ai vu les gens. J'ai rempli des papiers où je dis que je veux que personne ne me voie mort. Pour moi, pas d'enterrement"
Karl Lagerfeld was deeply mourned by his cat Choupette through her Instagram account:
Thank you everyone for your words of condolence. 😿 With a once cold but now simply broken heart, I am going into mourning. I pray that your kind words and well-wishes will help me to put my best paw forward in my future without Daddy @KarlLagerfeld & as my own woman.
«Merci à tous pour vos mots de condoléances. C'est avec un coeur froid et brisé que je vais faire mon deuil. Je prie pour que vos gentils mots et vos voeux m'aident à aller de l'avant sans Papa Karl Lagerfeld»
"Gracias a todos por sus condolencias. Con el corazón roto, voy a llorar. Espero que sus amables palabras y buenos deseos me ayuden a poner mi mejor pata en mi futuro sin papá."
"Danke an euch alle für eure Beileidsbekundungen. Mit einem einst kalten doch nun gebrochenen Herzen, trete ich in die Trauerphase ein. Ich bete darum, dass eure netten Worte und guten Wünsche mir dabei helfen werden, meine beste Pfote in Richtung Zukunft auszustrecken
Karl Lagerfeld fashion chronicle
1954: won womenswear design competition held in Paris in the category of coat
1963: freelance for Chloé
1965: consultant director of Fendi
1974: full time at Chloé
1977-2019: creative director of Fendi
1983-2019: art director of Coco Chanel
1991: art director of Chloé
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