Karl Lagerfeld maintained Chanel’s position at the pinnacle of fashion over a 36-year career that saw his name become synonymous with the luxury brand.
He took over as creative director in 1983, a decade after Coco Chanel died, for what would become a record-breaking stint at the house.
Describing Chanel as a “sleeping beauty” when he arrived, his first collection included a translucent navy chiffon dress that prompted scandalised headlines.
Widely credited with reinventing Chanel, Lagerfeld catalogued and reinterpreted the brand’s famous heritage designs.
His collections continued to present some of the most coveted items in fashion, notably the little black dress, tweed skirt suits, the 2.55 quilted handbag, bicolour ballerina shoes and jewellery featuring the interlocking C Chanel logo and large pearls.
Over almost four decades he expanded the designs into grunge-styled items in tweed while placing the famous logo on objects such as moonboots, surfboards and skis.
Overseeing the company’s growing fortunes – the house released financial figures for the first time in 2017 revealing it had made £1.35 billion the previous year – Lagerfeld also collaborated with H&M in 20014 for a collection that would turn out to be the original of many designer-high street collaborations to follow.
Lagerfeld, who described his style as “combining timeless classics with a modern, rock-chic edge”, has left the Chanel brand powerful enough to sell everything from high-end jewellery to nylon bags, with intense interest in who will be next to lead the famous house.