Outside Chanel’s flagship store in Paris, fans of Karl Lagerfeld eft flowers and tributes to the fashion superstar within hours of the announcement of his death on Tuesday.
“He was a legend, a giant. He saved Chanel and reinvented the label,” 20-year-old former fashion student Mathieu Cipriani-Riviere told AFP, adding that he had come to the famous address on Rue Cambon to pay homage immediately on hearing the news.
The boutique in the heart of Paris, close to the luxurious Place Vendome and Rue Faubourg Saint-Honore, was where Coco Chanel opened her shops and workshops 100 years ago as she built up her international fashion line that still bears her name.
“I’m so, so sad,” Yakin Benk, a tourist visiting Paris from Turkey, told AFP. “I have a lot of shoes, suits, shirts, glasses, all vintage.
“Chanel is very important in our family. When my daughter was younger she used to say ‘I will grow up and I will make a lot of money and I will buy you a pair of shoes… and later with her first salary, she offered me my first pair of Chanel shoes!”
Celina Pastors, a 26-year-old fashion student from Hamburg, placed a white rose at the door of the boutique.
“Like him, I came from Germany to learn in Paris,” she said. “Photo, fashion… He was crazily talented, he was cultured… how are they going to replace him?” she wondered.
Along with her friend Marie Lanzoni, she dropped off a card, written in German.
“Thank you to the biggest master of fashion, pride of France and Germany,” it read.
“Chanel will not be Chanel without Karl Lagerfeld,” wrote Lanzoni.
Inside the shop, staff said they had been told not to speak to the press.
Nothing in the store had been changed to mark the passing of the German-born designer, who served as artistic director for the label for 36 years.
Chanel owns the whole of the 18th-century building at number 31 Rue Cambon which contains workshops and a studio on the third floor where Lagerfeld used to work on his collections.
Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld dies at 85
Rumours of Lagerfeld’s ill-health had swirled after he failed to show up at Chanel’s January show in Paris for his customary bow.
Chanel chief executive Alain Wertheimer recalled how he had given carte blanche to Lagerfeld in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand, from the Chanel jacket and suit to its tweeds and two-tone shoes
He enjoyed the stature of a guru among mortals in the world of fashion, where he stayed on top for well over half of a century and up to his death.
The German designer was an accomplished photographer, who drew his own designs by hand, an increasingly rare phenomenon in fashion.
Behind the facade, Lagerfeld was known for his erudition and penchant for literature.
He also devoured the world’s leading newspapers daily.
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