Women's Wear Daily calls him "one of the most prolific, admired and multi-talented fashion figures of the modern age." It's one of the assessments coming in Tuesday morning upon the news that German designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at 85. Lagerfeld joined Chanel in 1983 as artistic director and had been there ever since, reports the Guardian. He also had his own eponymous label and designed for another fashion house, Fendi, notes the BBC. Last month, Lagerfeld—born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt in pre-war Germany—missed a big show in Paris, raising questions about his health.
"I design like I breathe," Lagerfeld once said. "You don't ask to breathe—it just happens." As a teenager, he emigrated to Paris to pursue his career in fashion. His big break came in 1954, when his drawing of a wool coat landed him an apprenticeship with designer Pierre Balmain. As the Hollywood Reporter notes, Lagerfeld went on to work with some of the world's biggest celebrities, even designing concert costumes for Madonna. But he also was one of the first big-name designers to "bring his fashion to the masses," per THR. (In 2017, Lagerfeld got into a public spat with none other than Meryl Streep.)