Leaders in the fashion industry mourned Karl Lagerfeld yesterday, with designers paying tribute to the “irreplaceable” icon who helped define the industry.
Milan Fashion Week is due to host the latest Fendi collection tomorrow, Lagerfeld’s final work for the label, which paid a moving tribute.
“I was just a child when I first saw Karl,” said Silvia Venturini Fendi, the label’s creative director for Men’s, Accessories and Children’s collections.
“Karl Lagerfeld was my mentor and my point of reference. One look was enough to understand each other.
“For Fendi and myself, Karl’s creative genius was and will always remain our guide and light.”
Other Italian houses set to present at this year’s Milan Fashion Week also reacted, with Gucci artistic director Alessandro Michele sharing a photograph of the designer, accompanied by a black heart.
London, where the city’s Fashion Week was winding up, also stopped to honour the 85-year-old.
“It’s such a loss. I know he wasn’t that young, but I didn’t expect it,” said fashion student Edson Toniato, dressed in a black suit and burgundy turtleneck.
The news hit around midday, throwing 180 Strand, Fashion Week’s central London nerve centre, into a sombre mood.
“We literally just found out on our way here, so it was quite a shock,” said fellow student Niamh Kerins, wearing a leopard coat.
“I’ve not really had the time to process it properly,” she added, as buyers, photographers and models shuttled from show to show around her.
‘He was ageless’
Singer “Girly” said she was struggling to digest the news.
Lagerfeld’s unchanging look, with his ever-present sunglasses and white mane, made people think “he just wasn’t human, you thought he was ageless,” she added.
“The very idea that he’s mortal is shocking. Really shocking.”
Ann Marie Haynes, who works in fashion merchandising, said there wasn’t “anyone that can replace him.”
“He will be a huge loss to the fashion community.”
Emotion quickly gave way to tributes for the flamboyant fashion giant, who was an inspiration for generations of designers.
“As a young designer, I’ve always admired what he’s done,” said Gayeon Lee.
“Since I was a student, I have always looked at his work and I was really inspired by him. So it’s very sad.”
David Martin, who works in fashion media, called it “an historic moment in fashion.
“We need to all of us remember everything that he’s done… the audacity.
“People sometimes forget what fashion is, where it is coming from… Everything is happening because of these geniuses and because of Karl,” he said.
Young designer Kitty Shukman, 24, who graduated from the London College of Fashion last year, and now has a small stand at Fashion Week, also cited Lagerfeld as an inspiration.
“It’s heartbreaking because he was such an icon and someone that you grow up with,” she said.
“The attitude: Working incredibly hard and being incredibly passionate about what you do… it’s something that I want to use in my career.”