Style & Beauty

A Look Back At Designer Karl Lagerfeld's Iconic Fashion Career In Photos

Lagerfeld was widely known for his work at Chanel, but he also led the helm at Fendi, his eponymous label, and did stints at Chloé.

The fashion world suffered a huge loss on Tuesday when it was announced that Karl Lagerfeld died at the age of 85. The house of Chanel, of which Lagerfeld was creative director, confirmed the news.

Upon hearing of the designer’s death, members of the fashion industry reacted on social media, mourning his loss and sharing fond memories.

Lagerfeld, with his signature white ponytail and dark sunglasses, was considered one of the hardest-working people in fashion. While the designer was most widely known for his work at Chanel, he was also the creative director at Fendi and his eponymous Karl Lagerfeld label; he held all three jobs simultaneously. Lagerfeld was an accomplished fashion photographer as well and even shot a number of the campaigns for the labels he led.

Karl Lagerfeld fits one of his designs on top model Ines de la Fressange at Chloe's Paris studio in 1983. 
Karl Lagerfeld fits one of his designs on top model Ines de la Fressange at Chloe's Paris studio in 1983. 

The designer was born in Hamburg, Germany. He got his first taste of fashion praise in 1954 when he won a contest organized by the International Wool Association, as noted on the Karl Lagerfeld website. The designer submitted a sketch of a coat, which ultimately caught the eye of fashion great Pierre Balmain, who offered the then-17-year-old Lagerfeld a job as his assistant.

By the 1960s, Lagerfeld was freelancing within the fashion industry, working between France, Italy, England and Germany. In 1964, he started working for Chloé, becoming the brand’s creative lead in 1974 and again in 1992. While working at Chloé, Lagerfeld also began working with Fendi, and held the position of creative director there until his death. In 1983 he was named art director at Chanel, where he stayed for 36 years until he died, and in 1984 he launched his own eponymous fashion house.

Lagerfeld photographed in front of his sketches at Chanel in 1984, the year after he was appointed as the brand's creative director. 
Lagerfeld photographed in front of his sketches at Chanel in 1984, the year after he was appointed as the brand's creative director. 

Lagerfeld was a master of his craft, whose go-to black and white aesthetic was often reflected in his work. He was an outspoken character in the fashion industry who stirred controversy on a number of occasions thanks to his often outdated opinions on everything from Adele’s weight to the Me Too movement.

Throughout his career, he designed countless garments ― and epic fashion show sets ― that will go down as some of the most memorable in fashion history. From the beaded guitar dress at Chloé to the furry Karlito keychains at Fendi, and the many tweed suits and couture bridal gowns at Chanel, take a look back at the designer’s fashion legacy in photos:

Daniel SIMON via Getty Images
Karl Lagerfeld presents Chloé's spring-summer ready-to-wear collection In Paris, France, In October 1981.
Daniel SIMON via Getty Images
A model wears Lagerfeld's iconic Chloé guitar dress on the runway in 1981.
Pierre VAUTHEY via Getty Images
Karl Lagerfeld fits one of his designs on top model Inès de la Fressange at Chloé's Paris studio in the '80s.
Daniel SIMON via Getty Images
Lagerfeld walks the runway with model Inès de la Fressange during a Chanel show in July 1987 in Paris.
Victor VIRGILE via Getty Images
Model Emma Sojberg walks the runway at the Chanel spring/summer couture show in January 1991 in Paris.
Victor VIRGILE via Getty Images
Model Karen Mulder walks the runway during the Chanel fall/winter 1991 couture show in Paris.
Thierry Orban via Getty Images
A model walks the runway at Chloé's fall/winter 1994 show.
PIERRE VERDY via Getty Images
Model Naomi Campbell displays a creation by Karl Lagerfeld for Chloé as part of his spring/summer ready-to-wear collection on Oct. 11, 1994, in Paris.
PIERRE VERDY via Getty Images
Model Nadja Auermann displays a creation designed by Lagerfeld for Chanel's fall/winter 1994 show on July 19, 1994, in Paris.
julio donoso via Getty Images
Campbell models an outfit by Lagerfeld for Fendi's ready-to-wear collection during the spring/summer 1992 fashion show in Milan.
Andrew Stawicki via Getty Images
Model Linda Evangelista models an outfit by Lagerfeld for Fendi's ready-to-wear collection during the spring/summer 1992 fashion show in Milan.
GERARD JULIEN via Getty Images
Top model Claudia Schiffer wears a design from the Chanel spring/summer 1991 couture collection, on Jan. 24, 1995, in Paris.
Stephane Cardinale - Corbis via Getty Images
Lagerfeld with models during Chanel's fall/winter 1995 couture show.
Pierre VAUTHEY via Getty Images
A model wears the iconic Chanel bikini from the spring/summer 1996 show.
Charly Hel/Prestige via Getty Images
A model wears an outfit from Lagerfeld's spring/summer 2002 ready-to-wear fashion collection for Chanel, Oct. 10, 2001, in Paris.
Thierry Orban via Getty Images
A model wears a design from the Chanel fall/winter 2001 couture show.
Charly Hel/Prestige via Getty Images
Models walk the runway with Lagerfeld at the Chanel spring/summer 2003 couture show on Jan. 21, 2003.
PAOLO COCCO via Getty Images
A model walks on the catwalk as she displays an outfit from Fendi's spring/summer collection, shown in Milan on Oct. 4, 2003.
JEAN-PIERRE MULLER via Getty Images
Sudanese model Alek Wek wears a creation by Lagerfeld for Chanel as part of the spring/summer 2004 couture show in Paris, Jan. 20, 2004.
Chris Moore/Catwalking via Getty Images
A model walks down the catwalk during the Fendi spring/summer 2007 fashion show in Milan on Sept. 28, 2006.
Chris Moore/Catwalking via Getty Images
Lagerfeld walks the runway with a model during the Chanel fall/winter 2007 couture show in Paris on July 3, 2007.
STR via Getty Images
A model presents a creation during the Fendi fashion show on the Great Wall of China at Badaling, Oct. 19, 2007.
Lucas Dawson via Getty Images
Models walk the runway during the Fendi fashion show on the Great Wall of China at Badaling, Oct. 19, 2007.
PATRICK KOVARIK via Getty Images
A model holds a bag with Lagerfeld's face on it during the Karl Lagerfeld spring/summer 2009 ready-to-wear collection show in Paris, on Oct. 1, 2008.
FRANCOIS GUILLOT via Getty Images
A model wears a creation by Lagerfeld for Chanel during the spring/summer 2009 couture show on Jan. 27, 2009, in Paris.
PATRICK KOVARIK via Getty Images
A model presents a creation from Lagerfeld's eponymous collection's fall/winter 2009 show in Paris on March 8, 2009.
FRANCOIS GUILLOT via Getty Images
A model presents an outfit by Lagerfeld for Chanel during the label's fall/winter 2009 show in Paris on March 10, 2009.
Vittorio Zunino Celotto via Getty Images
Lagerfeld walks the runway during the Chanel Cruise 2010 show on May 14, 2009, in Venice, Italy.
PATRICK KOVARIK via Getty Images
Models wear designs by Lagerfeld for Chanel during the spring/summer 2010 haute couture collection show on Jan. 26, 2010, in Paris.
Venturelli via Getty Images
A model walks the runway during the Fendi fall/winter womenswear show on Feb. 25, 2010, in Milan.
PATRICK KOVARIK via Getty Images
Lagerfeld and models walk the runway at the Karl Lagerfeld fall/winter 2010 ready-to-wear show on March 7, 2010, in Paris.
Jun Sato via Getty Images
A model walks the runway during the Chanel fall/winter 2010 ready-to-wear collection shown in Tokyo on June 23, 2010.
Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho via Getty Images
A model walks the runway during the Fendi's fall/winter 2011 show on Feb. 24, 2011, in Milan.
Venturelli via Getty Images
A model walks the runway during the Fendi's fall/winter 2012 show on Feb. 23, 2012, in Milan.
Michel Dufour via Getty Images
Model Lindsey Wixson and Lagerfeld walk the runway during the Chanel fall/winter 2012 couture show in Paris on July 3, 2012.
PATRICK KOVARIK via Getty Images
A model walks with the iconic hula hoop bag at the Chanel spring/summer 2013 ready-to-wear show on Oct. 2, 2012.
Chris Moore/Catwalking via Getty Images
Models walk the runway at the Chanel spring/summer 2013 fashion show during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week on Jan. 22, 2013 in Paris.
Pascal Le Segretain via Getty Images
A model walks the runway during Chanel spring/summer 2014 show on Oct. 1, 2013 in Paris.
Michel Dufour via Getty Images
Cara Delevingne, as the couture bride, walks the runway during the Chanel spring/summer 2014 couture show in Paris, Jan. 21, 2014.
Pascal Le Segretain via Getty Images
Lagerfeld and model Ashleigh Good acknowledge the applause of the audience after the Chanel fall/winter 2014 couture show in Paris, July 8, 2014.
Catwalking via Getty Images
Delevingne walks the runway at the Fendi fall/winter 2014 fashion show during Milan Fashion Week on Feb. 20, 2014, in Milan.
Dominique Charriau via Getty Images
Delevingne and Lagerfeld walk the runway during the Chanel fall/winter 2014 show on March 4, 2014 in Paris.
Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho via Getty Images
A model walks the runway at the Chanel spring/summer 2015 couture show in Paris, on Jan. 27, 2015.
Dominique Charriau via Getty Images
Model Kendall Jenner walks the runway during the Chanel spring/summer 2017 couture show in Paris on Jan. 24, 2017.
Pascal Le Segretain via Getty Images
Lily-Rose Depp and Lagerfeld walk the runway during the Chanel spring/summer 2017 couture show in Paris on Jan. 24, 2017.
Estrop via Getty Images
A model walks the runway during the Chanel spring/summer ready-to-wear collection on Oct. 2, 2019 in Paris.
Peter White via Getty Images
Model Luna Bijl walks the runway during the Chanel spring/summer 2019 couture show on Jan. 22, 2019, in Paris, France.
Victor VIRGILE via Getty Images
Vittoria Ceretti walks the runway during the Chanel spring/summer 2019 couture show on Jan. 22, 2019, in Paris, France.