Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld dies in hospital after secret cancer battle

Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld has died aged 85 after a cancer battle.

The iconic designer, who was the creative director of Chanel, is believed to have been unwell for two weeks before his death in a Paris hospital.

According to sources close to him, Lagerfeld was rushed to hospital on Monday while suffering from pancreatic cancer.

"He hadn't gone on about his illness, but battled it very bravely," said one insider. "Karl was very proud of his fitness and healthy living, so the pancreatic cancer came as a huge shock."

Another source in Paris said: "The state of his health had been a cause of concern for a number of weeks.

"He had not been seen at fashion shows that he was expected to attend. Karl was admitted to hospital on Monday, and died on Tuesday morning."

He had missed two of Chanel's haute couture Paris shows in on January 22, but the fashion company only said at the time he was feeling tired.

In a statement read out after he missed the second show, it said: "Mr Lagerfeld, artistic director of Chanel, who was feeling tired, asked Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house, to represent him."

It was the first time he had ever missed giving a catwalk bow at the end of a Chanel show.

Karl Lagerfeld dead: How Chanel designer leaves beloved and VERY famous cat Choupette an orphan

Karl would often bring his beloved cat, Choupette, to his appearances, and even based several designs on her.

He set up an Instagram account - Choupette's Diary - and would upload streams of content of her daily activities, from flying with him on his private jet to basking in his mansion.

The white-haired Birman, described by her social network minders as "daughter of Karl Otto Lagerfeld", has more than 100,000 Instagram followers and a publishing deal.

Karl has presided over the iconic fashion house, established by Coco Chanel, for more than three decades, producing as much as eight collections a year - to the joy of fashion editors, fans and collectors.

"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that," runs one legendary quote attributed to him, and often recycled to convey the person he liked to play.

"It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long."

He was best known for his signature outfit: a black suit with his white hair pushed into a ponytail, fingerless gloves and dark glasses.

Talk had already turned in recent weeks to who could succeed Karl when he eventually stepped down from Chanel. Virginie Viard, director of the creative studio of the house of Chanel, has already been speculated as his eventual successor.

As yet, no cause of death has been confirmed.

Karl was inspired to go into fashion when he accompanied his mother to a Dior fashion show in 1933, and would draw fashion designs as a young child.

He was offered the job at Chanel in 1985 - but had huge reservations.

"At that time, I already had a good reputation, I was doing Fendi and Chloe. I had been warned, 'Do not take Chanel, it's awful," he told Madame Figaro magazine.

"When I arrived, she [Coco] had been dead for 10 years and everyone lived in the respect of her memory. If you want to kill a house, show [her] respect."

A spokesman for Chanel was not immediately available for comment.

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