17 models who Karl Lagerfeld helped make successful

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty ImagesKendall Jenner was one of Karl Lagerfeld’s most recent muses.
  • Karl Lagerfeld died at the age of 85 in Paris on Tuesday. The cause of death is unknown.
  • The late designer worked with many models during his time as the creative director of Chanel.
  • Inès de la Fressange and Linda Evangelista were two of his earliest muses.
  • Kendall Jenner and Kaia Gerber recently worked closely with Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld died at the age of 85 in Paris on Tuesday. The cause of death is unknown.

The late designer began an iconic legacy when he became the creative director of Chanel in 1983, and he helped propel quite a few models into superstardom along the way. Although he worked with many models during his illustrious career, a select few stood out from the pack and became known as influential muses for Lagerfeld.

From Linda Evangelista to Kendall Jenner, here are 15 models who worked closely with Lagerfeld at the beginning of their careers.


Inès de la Fressange is one of Lagerfeld’s most iconic and earliest muses.

Pierre Vauthey/Getty ImagesKarl Lagerfeld in a fitting with Inès de la Fressange in 1983.

According to The Huffington Post, she became the first model to ever sign an exclusive contract with a fashion house when she became the face of Chanel in the 1980s.

“She is beyond stunning,” Lagerfeld said of the model to WWD. “Also, she is the Parisienne.”


Linda Evangelista’s career took off after she met Lagerfeld in 1985.

Ron Galella/Getty ImagesLagerfeld and Evangelista at an event in 1991.

She went on to become known as one of the original “supermodels.” Evangelista shared an Instagram photo with Lagerfeld on the day of his death with the caption, “Great love of my life.”


Claudia Schiffer then became another of Lagerfeld’s earliest muses.

Pool ARNAL/PICOT/Getty ImagesLagerfeld and Schiffer in 1992.

She began closing his shows in the early ’90s, carrying on the tradition of ending the show in a couture bridal gown.

“I would say Karl Lagerfeld [was my mentor], especially as we worked together so much,” she said in a 2012 interview with Vogue.

Schiffer posted a tribute to Lagerfeld on Instagram on the day of his death, calling him “irreplaceable.”

“Karl was my magic dust, he transformed me from a shy German girl into a supermodel,” she wrote in the caption.


Kimora Lee Simmons also worked closely with Karl Lagerfeld early in her career.

Jamie McCarthy/Getty ImagesLee Simmons and Lagerfeld in 2008.

According to WWD, she signed an exclusive contract with Chanel at age 13 and went on to close his haute couture show in 1989.


Vanessa Paradis rose to prominence in the modelling world after becoming a Chanel ambassador in 1991.

Serge Benhamou/Karl LagerfeldParadis and Lagerfeld in 2004.

She spoke to S Magazine about her love for Lagerfeld in May 2018.

“I love the way he talks to the people he works with,” she told S Magazine. “He includes them so much, he respects them, he praises them and so everybody has wings when working with him.”


Devon Aoki added a fresh look to Chanel’s shows in 1997.

Daniel Simon/Getty ImagesAoki and Lagerfeld in 2000.

She became a staple in Lagerfeld’s shows, which signified a shift towards more diversity in haute couture runway shows.

“Not everyone’s 5ft 10in and stick thin,” she told the Independent in 1999. “There’s more diversity now. It’s OK to be shorter and look sort of different.”


Kristen McMenamy also developed a close friendship with Lagerfeld.

Dave Benett/Getty ImagesLagerfeld walked McMenamy down the aisle at her wedding.

The two became so close that Lagerfeld walked her down the aisle for her wedding in October 1997.


Stella Tennant became another prominent muse thanks to her resemblance to Coco Chanel.

Time & Life Pictures/Getty ImagesLagerfeld and Tennant in 1996.

She got her start in the 1990s, and continued to model for the brand years later. She most recently walked in the label’s show for its 2017 cruise collection.


Lagerfeld and Diane Kruger became close friends at the beginning of her career.

Michel Dufour/Getty ImagesLagerfeld and Kruger at a Chanel fashion show in 2005.

She spoke about her relationship with Lagerfeld in a 2016 interview with The Edit, calling him “funny and cynical, very educated, very cultivated. He lives in books, always has great recommendations.”

Kruger shared a tribute to him on Instagram after his death, writing, “I will never forget your kindness towards me, your laughs, your imagination.”


Baptiste Giabiconi became one of Lagerfeld’s rare male muses after he discovered the model in 2008.

Daniele Venturelli/Getty ImagesGiabiconi and Lagerfeld in 2010.

According to The Cut, Lagerfeld once described Giabiconi as “skinny, skinny but with an athletic body – good for clothes and great with no clothes.”


Cara Delevingne has become a regular in Chanel runway shows.

Francois Durand/Getty ImagesDelevingne and Lagerfeld during Paris Fashion Week in 2014.

Delevingne has even walked the runway hand-in-hand alongside the iconic designer. Though Delevingne had definitely become one of his most recent muses, he had a slightly off-kilter compliment when asked about her look.

“She is not a standout beauty,” Lagerfeld told The Guardian. “Was it Bacon who said, ‘There is not beauty without some strangeness in the proportions’?”


Lagerfeld began working closely with Kendall Jenner in 2014.

Victor Boyko/Getty ImagesJenner and Lagerfeld in 2017.

Jenner walked her first Chanel show in 2015 and Lagerfeld later photographed Jenner for the 2015 September issue of Vogue.

“There was a good feeling coming from her,” Lagerfeld told Harper’s Bazaar of his first meeting with Jenner. “And I don’t see that with everybody! There is something very warm, human, and sweet about her.”


Lily-Rose Depp was another recent muse of Lagerfeld’s.

Pascal Le Segretain/Getty ImagesDepp and Lagerfeld during the Chanel Spring Summer 2017 show.

The model followed in her mother Vanessa Paradis’ footsteps by landing her first job with the brand in 2015. She then went on to become the face of the Chanel No.5 L’Eau fragrance.

She also posted an Instagram tribute to Lagerfeld, writing, “Your kindness, humour, and loyalty will live on in the hearts of those who knew you and your genius will live on forever.”


17-year-old Kaia Gerber was one of Lagerfeld’s more recent muses.

Francois Durand/Getty ImagesGerber (center) with Lagerfeld (left) and Pier Paolo Righi (right) in 2018.

Lagerfeld chose Gerber to open the Chanel spring/summer 2018 show, and later asked her to create a capsule collection for the brand later that year.

According to Vogue, Lagerfeld has praised Gerber’s “youthful, independent attitude.”


Luna Bijl was chosen to open and close some of Lagerfeld’s last few shows.

Peter White/Getty ImagesLuna Bijl in the Fall/Winter 2018/2019 Chanel show in March 2018.

She made her debut in 2016, and quickly became a prominent fixture in Chanel’s runway shows.


Alek Wek made history when she walked the Chanel runway in 2004.

Michel Dufour/Getty ImagesAlek Wek made Chanel history.

She became the first black model to walk in one of the brand’s iconic wedding dresses.


Adut Akech followed in Wek’s footsteps in 2018.

Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Getty ImagesWek walked in a mint-green bridal dress.

The Sudanese model was chosen by Lagerfeld as the second black woman to model Chanel’s bridal look on the runway.

“Cannot believe I just made history by being Chanel’s second black couture bride, this is one of my most proudest achievement!!!” Akech wrote on Instagram alongside a photo of Lagerfeld.

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