The iconic French fashion house paid tribute to its longtime creative director on Tuesday and announced that Lagerfeld's close collaborator would take the reins

By Kaitlyn Frey
February 19, 2019 10:25 AM
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In the wake of Karl Lagerfeld‘s death, the fashion industry has united to mourn and remember the iconic designer. Chanel, the French fashion house Lagerfeld ran since 1983, paid tribute to its leader as they named his longtime right-hand colleague, Virginie Viard, as his successor.

“Virginie Viard, Director of CHANEL’s Fashion Creation Studio and Karl Lagerfeld’s closest collaborator for more than 30 years, has been entrusted by Alain Wertheimer with the creative work for the collections, so that the legacy of Gabrielle Chanel and Karl Lagerfeld can live on,” the label announced on Instagram.

Alain Wertheimer, CEO of Chanel, shared his sadness upon the loss of the “prolific creative mind.”

Chanel show, Runway, Spring Summer 2019, Paris Fashion Week, France - 02 Oct 2018
Credit: REX/Shutterstock

“Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the House of Chanel’s success throughout the world. Today, not only have I lost a friend, but we have all lost an extraordinary creative mind to whom I gave carte blanche in the early 1980s to reinvent the brand,” Wertheimer said in a statement on Instagram.

Chanel : Runway - Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015
Credit: Dominique Charriau/WireImage

Bruno Pavlovsky, President of Fashion at Chanel, also remembered the late designer’s more than 30 year tenure at the brand.

“Fashion show after fashion show, collection after collection, Karl Lagerfeld left his mark on the legend of Gabrielle Chanel and the history of the House of Chanel. He steadfastly promoted the talent and expertise of Chanel’s ateliers and Métiers d’Art, allowing this exceptional know-how to shine throughout the world,” Pavolvsky said.

He continued, “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’.”

Chanel : Backstage - Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture S/S 2014
Credit: Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty

Fendi, the Italian fashion house Lagerfeld has worked with since 1965, also is mourning the loss of its Creative Director. Although the label has yet to name his successor, Fendi shared a statement with PEOPLE.

“Working with Karl Lagerfeld at Fendi allowed me to catch a glimpse of the secret of the continuous renewal of the House. I profoundly admire Karl’s immense culture, his ability to rejuvenate at all times, to taste all the arts, to not overlook any style, along with a persistent refusal to turn to his past, to look at his work in a mirror,” Fendi’s Chairman and CEO Serge Brunschwig tells PEOPLE. “He was restless and his exigent nature would never leave him. The show was just ending that Karl would always say, ‘And now number next!’ He leaves us an enormous heritage, an inexhaustible source of inspiration to continue. Karl will be immensely missed by myself and all the Fendi people.”

FRANCE FASHION, PARIS, France
Credit: Remy De La Mauviniere/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Designer Silvia Venturini Fendi, the Fendi Creative Director for Menswear, Accessories and Kidswear, also mourns the loss of Lagerfeld, whom she calls her “mentor and my point of reference.”

“I am profoundly saddened as today we have lost a unique man and an unrivaled designer, who has given so much to FENDI and to myself. I was only a child when I first saw Karl. Our relationship was very special, based on a deep and very genuine affection. We had a lot of mutual appreciation and endless respect,” she tells us. “For FENDI and myself, the creative genius of Karl has been and will always be our guiding light, molding the Maison’s DNA. I will miss him deeply and always carry with me the memories of our days together.”

Karl Lagerfeld - 1982
Credit: REX/Shutterstock

Lagerfeld died at age 85 in Paris several weeks after he missed Chanel’s spring 2019 haute couture show in Paris on January 22, leading to reports that he was in poor health.

He’s credited for reviving the brand founded by Coco Chanel, which had lost its prominence in the years before Lagerfeld joined. As the designer told WWD, “Nobody cared about [Chanel] anymore. She was the most démodé thing in the world.”

Since the news broke, celebrities and fashion industry stars have been remembering Lagerfeld’s legacy on social media.

Designer Victoria Beckham and her husband, soccer star David Beckham, both paid their respects on Instagram. “So incredibly sad to hear this. Karl was a genius and always so kind and generous to me both personally and professionally,” Victoria wrote.

Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid, who have both graced many runways for Lagerfeld’s shows, paid tribute to Lagerfeld as well on their Instagram Stories.

V Magazine's Intimate Dinner In Honor Of Karl Lagerfeld With A Special Performance By Mariah Carey At The Top Of The Standard
Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty

“I’m so heartbroken I almost don’t have words,” Gigi wrote (and Bella reposted). “There will never be another Karl Lagerfeld. Every second with you was an honor, joy, and inspiration. I wish I could give you one last hug.”