Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld dies aged 85

Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director of French luxury clothing brand Chanel, has died at the age of 85, according to media reports.

According to French magazine Closer, Lagerfeld died on Tuesday morning following a period of ill health.

The German fashion designer had missed two of Chanel's haute couture shows in Paris on January 22, with the fashion house saying he was "feeling tired".

Chanel, the fashion house he directed since 1983, thanked the man who brought it from the brink following its founder Coco's death, calling Lagerfeld an "extraordinary creative individual".

Tributes from the world of fashion poured in following news of his death, with Donatella Versace sharing a photo of herself with Lagerfeld on Instagram.

The designer wrote: "Karl your genius touched the lives of so many, especially Gianni and I. We will never forget your incredible talent and endless inspiration. We were always learning from you."

Model Naomi Campbell wrote on Instagram: "Karl .. too many memories to write ... , I THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU !!! For taking the chance on 16 year old girl from South London and opening my eyes . May you Rest with Highest".

Victoria Beckham posted on Instagram: "So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally. RIP x vb."

Italian fashion designer Donatella Versace paid tribute to Lagerfeld on Instagram. Credit: Instagram

Bruno Pavlovsky, president of fashion at Chanel, said: "The greatest tribute we can pay today is to continue to follow the path he traced by – to quote Karl – ‘continuing to embrace the present and invent the future’."

Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, said: "I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Karl Lagerfeld.

"He has exerted an incredible influence over the fashion industry over the past six decades, and it goes without saying that the world has lost one of the greatest designers in the history of fashion.

"But it has also lost one of its greatest teachers."

Actress Diane Kruger said she was heartbroken in a long message on Instagram.

Actress Diane Kruger said on Instagram she will 'never forget' the fashion designer's kindness. Credit: Instagram

She wrote: "Karl.....I cannot tell you how much you meant to me and how much I will miss you - I will never forget your kindness towards me, your laughs, your imagination - I came to France to see you this week and introduce you to my daughter...I'm heartbroken I was too late - Rest In Peace, I adore you."

Bernard Arnault, chairman and CEO of LVMH - which owns Fendi - said: "With the passing of Karl Lagerfeld we have lost a creative genius who helped to make Paris the fashion capital of the world and Fendi one of the most innovative Italian houses.

"I will always remember his immense imagination, his ability to conceive new trends for every season, his inexhaustible energy, the virtuosity of his drawings, his carefully guarded independence, his encyclopedic culture, and his unique wit and eloquence."

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is applauded by his models at the end of the presentation of Chanel's fall and winter haute couture collection in Paris, France, Tuesday, July 26, 1983. Credit: AP

He added: "The death of this dear friend deeply saddens me, my wife and my children. We loved and admired him deeply. Fashion and culture has lost a great inspiration."

Fashion designer Henry Holland tweeted a quote from Lagerfeld, writing: "To design is to breathe, so if I can't breathe I'm in trouble" RIP @KarlLagerfeld #karlargerfeld."

As well as running Chanel, Lagerfeld was also the creative director of Italian fur and leather goods fashion house Fendi, as well as his eponymous fashion label, which he opened in 1984.

He had worked for Chloe and H&M, and was also an acclaimed photographer, having gone behind the lens for a number of high fashion magazines and for his own fashion campaigns.

His fashion career got off to a precocious start when, in 1954, a coat he designed won a contest by the International Wool Secretariat. His rival, Yves Saint Laurent, won that year's contest in the dress category.

Lagerfeld (1985) in his trademark sunglasses during the opening of an fashion exhibit. Credit: AP

Not only was he a designer of fashion but he was an icon, famous for his white pony tailed hair, his sunglasses and his fingerless gloves.

In 2015 the veteran fashion powerhouse told ITV News, he would "never retire" because there's no one to take over from him.

He claimed in the interview with ITV News Arts Editor Nina Nannar that Chanel founder Coco "would have hated" what he had done with the brand, saying she was "never very nice" to other designers.

He added he was rather relieved that she never had chance to criticise him, having taken over some 12 years after her death.

His outspoken style extended past the fashion world, with him once telling magazine Marie-Claire that Francois Hollande was an "imbecile" who would be "disastrous" for France.

He also once told The Sun how he didn't like the face of Pippa Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge's sister, saying "she should only show her back".

He was heavily criticised for sending out a negative message to women when he told France's Metro newspaper that signer Adele was "a little too fat."

Lagerfeld, who was rarely seen without his trademark sunglasses, enjoyed the mystery surrounding him and intentionally created ambiguity about his date of birth.

Karl Lagerfeld with models in Paris 1995. Credit: AP

It was reported he had two birth certificates, one dated 1933 and the other 1938 but as of 2019 his assistant claim she didn't know which was correct, telling the Associated Press it was "part of his character" to "scramble the tracks on his year of birth".

Despite spending much of his life in the public eye, Lagerfeld remained a largely elusive figure and apparently made deliberate attempts to hide what was going on behind the shades.

"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that," British Vogue quoted him as saying. "It is like a mask and for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long."