Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died aged 85.

According to French magazine Closer, Lagerfeld died this morning following a period of ill health.

French magazine Paris Match also shared the same report.

His death comes after he missed the Chanel haute couture show in Paris in January for the first time.

Lagerfeld was also the creative director of Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi, as well as his eponymous fashion label, which he opened in 1984.

Lagerfeld had worked for Chloe and H&M, and was also an acclaimed photographer, having gone behind the lens for a number of high fashion magazines and for his own fashion campaigns.

Regarded as one of the most important fashion visionaries of the 20th and 21st centuries, he was known for regularly wearing sunglasses and a black suit with a white shirt, with his grey hair pulled back into a ponytail.

Virginie Viard, deputy artistic director of Chanel, will become chief designer of the fashion house following Lagerfeld's death, a source at Chanel said.


Read more: Karl Lagerfeld's most iconic quotes


The German designer was best known for his association with France's Chanel, dating back to 1983.

The brand, the legend now goes, risked becoming the preserve of monied grannies before he arrived, slashing hemlines and adding glitz to the prim tweed suits of what is now one of the world's most valuable couture houses.

But Lagerfeld, who simultaneously churned out collections for LVMH's Fendi and his eponymous label - an unheard of feat in fashion - was almost a brand in his own right.

Sporting dark suits, white, pony-tailed hair and tinted sunglasses in his later years that made him instantly recognisable, an irreverent wit was also part of a carefully crafted persona.

"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that," runs one legendary quote attributed to him, and often recycled to convey the person he liked to play.

"It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long."

 His artistic instincts, business acumen and commensurate ego combined to commercially triumphant effect in the rarefied world of high fashion, where he was revered and feared in similar proportions by competitors and top-models.

Lagerfeld on the runway at the Chanel Metiers D'Art 2018/19 Show in New York in December

A refusal to look to the past was one of his biggest assets, those who knew him said.

The designer mingled with the young and trendy until the last, pairing up with 17-year-old catwalk star Kaia Gerber, daughter of Cindy Crawford, for a collaboration released by his Karl Lagerfeld brand in 2018.

An accomplished photographer, he drew his own designs by hand, an increasingly rare phenomenon in fashion.

Though he long enjoyed befuddling interviewers by citing different years of birth, the one deemed the most reliable is 10 September 1933.

Lagerfeld - dubbed "Kaiser Karl" and "Fashion Meister" among a whole host of media monikers - was born in Hamburg to a German mother and a Swedish father who imported condensed milk.

He spent early childhood tucked away from war in the 1,200-acre family estate in Bavaria and had a French tutor.

The big breakthrough came shortly after a move to Paris when, in 1954, he drew a wool coat that won a prize and landed him an apprenticeship with designer Pierre Balmain.

Yves Saint Laurent, who went on to found his namesake label, won the dress prize. The two became fierce competitors and even rivals in love at one point, chasing the affections of late Parisian society figure Jacques de Bascher.

Lagerfeld first found real success in the mid-1960s with Chloe, the fashion label now owned by Switzerland's Richemont and to which he was connected off and on until 1997.

But it was Chanel that propelled him to rock-star status, as he sexed up the brand and lifted its profile with grandiose runway shows.

Lagergeld in 1994 with Karen Mulder, Claudia Schiffer and Linda Evangelista

In the past year these have featured a full-scale beach and an enormous replica ship.

Lagerfeld was as harsh with his fashion models as he was searingly critical of anyone he considered "not trendy".

Kendall Jenner & Lagerfeld pose at the end of the Chanel show as part of 2016 Paris Fashion Week

He fired his closest female friend, former Chanel model Inesde la Fressange, in 1999 after she agreed to pose as Marianne, France's national symbol, without asking him first.

Occasionally his sharp tongue has stirred controversies, though he also had a flair for a good soundbite.

In a rare climbdown, he half-apologised to Oscar-winner movie actress Meryl Streep after once suggesting she had refused to wear a dress designed by him at an awards ceremony in favour of another she wanted to be paid to wear.

Lagerfeld, who moonlighted as a cartoonist in Germany's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, took a dig at Chancellor Angela Merkel's pro-refugee stance in a 2017 sketch that blamed her for helping a far-right party gain parliamentary seats.

In rare moments when he was not working, Lagerfeld retired to one of his many homes in Paris, Germany, Italy or Monaco, all of them lavish carbon copies of 18th-century interiors.

Additional Reporting PA