Courtesy of Getty Images

Nobody Knows How Old Karl Lagerfeld Was

Was he born in 1933? 1935? 1938? Or was he simply ageless?

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Feb 20 2019, 6:40pm

Courtesy of Getty Images

After the death of Karl Lagerfeld on Tuesday, two days before Fendi's Fall/Winter 2019 show and two weeks before Chanel's, many questions were floated. Who would succeed Chanel in the short term in Lagerfeld's absence? The answer, as many expected, is Virginie Viard, his longtime right hand woman. Who would take over Fendi? That remains unknown. More importantly: Who would look after his beloved Choupette? Unknown as well. But perhaps the biggest unknown: Just how old was Mr. Lagerfeld upon his death?

Despite most outlets reporting he was 85, Vanessa Friedman's New York Times obituary conjured a possible conspiracy. "Sources have differed on his birth year," she explains. "Was it 1938, as Chanel believed, or 1933, as a book by the writer Alicia Drake asserted? Or was it 1935, as he told the magazine Paris Match in 2013?" According to the Hamburg Genealogical Society, Lagerfeld was born on Sept 10, 1935, Friedman notes.

"I'm sure Karl would adore that nobody couldn't even get his obit date right—his birthdate right in his obits," fashion journalist Dana Thomas shared on NPR. "It's just perfectly Karl." And it's true, for a man who self-identified as a "caricature," and famously embraced the present, while inventing the future, such details as when one was born seem arbitrary for a life as well lived as that of Karl Lagerfeld.