Fashion designer who oversaw the transformation of Chanel into an intercontinental superbrand
The designer Karl Lagerfeld, who has died aged 85, explored and exploited couture, ready-to-wear and even mass-market fashion for more than 60 years. He had a genius for visual quotation and allusion, impersonation and pastiche, especially at Chanel, the fashion house he headed for more than three decades, and it made him the first postmodern fashionmeister.
Nobody else stayed on top of so many labels for so long: besides Chanel, Lagerfeld headed Fendi, and intermittently had his own-name brand. And he evolved into a commentary on the whole business: personally stylised into his own logo (glasses, gloves, the defensive composure for the camera); encyclopedic about the history of design, yet devoid of sentimental nostalgia. Edna E Mode, the opinionated couturier in the Pixar cartoon The Incredibles, says: “I never look back, darling, it distracts from the now.” Totally Lagerfeld.