Superstar designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85, his fashion label Chanel confirmed on Tuesday.
The announcement came just weeks after the man known as the "Kaiser" in the industry did not appear at shows during Paris Haute Couture week for Chanel, which he has led since 1983.
Karl Lagerfeld, fashion's quick-witted king
They called him the "Kaiser", and for decades Karl Lagerfeld reigned imperially over the fashion world.
From his perch at Chanel, the German-born designer presided over the most famous of all fashion houses like the 18th-century absolute monarchs he modelled himself on.
With his powdered white pony tail, black sunglasses, and starched high-collared white shirts, he was as instantly recognisable as his celebrity clients.
While other designers came to be associated with a particular look, Lagerfeld's greatest invention was "Karl".
He put himself at the heart not just of his own label, but also of Chanel and Fendi -- the Italian house he headed for more than half a century.
Such staggering stamina and longevity in a world as ephemeral as fashion, where talents regularly crash and burn, added to the mystery this steely survivor loved to wrap himself in.
His waspish wit -- "Anyone who wears jogging pants has lost control of their life" -- added another layer of fascination and ensured he hogged the headlines even when his clothes did not.
A renovator rather than a revolutionary, his genius was for subtly, or sometimes not so subtly, updating classic luxury labels with street style influences.
His streetwise smarts sent Chanel sales surging to $10 billion in 2017 even as Lagerfeld entered the second half of his eighties.
"Karl doesn't so much design as reign," one fashion insider remarked.
Lagerfeld was never in any doubt that he was born to lead, confessing he had asked his Prussian mother for a valet for his fifth birthday.
His origins, however, were not quite as aristocratic as he may have liked.