By Vanessa Friedman
New York Times News Service
Karl Lagerfeld, the most prolific designer of the 20th and 21st centuries and a man whose career formed the prototype of the modern luxury fashion industry, died Tuesday in Paris.
Though his birth year was a matter of some dispute, Lagerfeld, who lived in Paris, was generally thought to be 85.
His death was announced Tuesday by Chanel, with which he had long been associated.
Creative director of Chanel since 1983 and Fendi since 1965, and founder of his own line, Lagerfeld was the definition of a fashion polyglot, able to speak the language of many different brands at the same time.
In his 80s, when most of his peers were retiring to their yachts or country estates, he was designing an average of 14 new collections a year ranging from couture to the high street, and not counting collaborations and special projects.
“Ideas come to you when you work,” he said backstage before a Fendi show at age 83.
As a result, Lagerfeld never stopped creating.
He was also a photographer, whose work was exhibited at the Pinacothèque de Paris; a publisher, having founded his own imprint for Steidl, Edition 7L; and the author of a popular 2002 diet book, “The Karl Lagerfeld Diet,” about how he had lost 92 pounds.
A self-identified “caricature,” with his dark glasses, powdered ponytail, black jeans, fingerless gloves, starched collars, Chrome Hearts jewelry and obsessive Diet Coke consumption, he achieved such a level of global fame — and controversy — that a $200 Karl Barbie doll, created in collaboration with the toymaker Mattel, sold out in less than an hour in 2014.