Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Lagerfeld: I am not an intellectual

He glides in looking relaxed, wearing a black suit jacket by Tom Ford, black jeans by Christian Dior, a 4in-high Edwardian collar, and fingerless biker gloves adorned with rings. He offers a gloved hand and a well-practised apology, and takes a seat at a large wooden table in a room attached to the main studio, surrounded by sleek filing cabinets, yet more books and stacks of hip fashion and design magazines.

“I’m mad for books,” he says, sitting motionless behind his black Dior shades. “It is a disease I won’t recover from. They are the tragedy of my life. I want to learn about everything. I want to know everything, but I’m not an intellectual, and I don’t like their company. I’m the most superficial man on Earth.”

Lagerfeld relishes such contradictory language – or should I say, he relishes talking rubbish, probably because it makes understanding him more difficult and shields his private life. “There are many Karls,” says the publicist Caroline Lebar, who has known him for 22 years. “He is like – how do you say in English – the animal that changes its skin?” A snake? “No, a snake changes only once in life.” A chameleon? “Oui, oui. Karl is like a chameleon. Always changing.”

. . .

Discussion about “the hidden depths”, as he calls them, should be avoided. “The quest to find yourself is an overrated thing concerning not very interesting people very often. Psychoanalysis – I don’t want to hear about it. Before Freud, people weren’t tortured by these things that have undermined the territory of perception. You have to live with your shortcomings.”

I’m just trying to get behind the many faces of Karl, I suggest. He laughs.

“This reminds me of when Annie Leibovitz photographed me for Vanity Fair. I didn’t know her very well then, and she said, ‘I have to spend three days with you to see what’s behind.’ And I said, ‘Annie, you’re wasting your time. Look at what you see.’ ” He casts his hand theatrically over his face. “There is nothing else.” Why do you want to be known as superficial? “I like that image. I don’t want to look like an old teacher.

from the Times


Anastasia said...

Well, at long last, Lagerfeld seems to be enjoying himself. A lot. That must be good, no?

I often wonder if he ever steps out of his public Kaiser Karl persona and goes out for an intimate dinner or a cup of coffee, wearing no sunglasses and a simple suit - would people still recognize him?

Anonymous said...

Do you ever get the feeling that Mr Lagerfeld is really Andy Warhol, just having a joke?

greying pixie said...

I've always regarded Karl Lagerfeld as a poor little rich boy and one can't help wondering where he would be today if it weren't for his family wealth helping him to start out in the first place. Personally I don't think he has contributed much to 20th century fashion and yet he enjoys the celebrity and stature of a designer who has.

As a teacher of fashion design I have never advised a student to examine his work or research his design philosophy. If he retired tomorrow I, for one, would not miss him.

metscan said...

Wow- read the whole creepy story and it did not clear my mind about KL. Everything around him is so theatrical;a big drama and I would definitely never ever want to meet him in person(!). I want to see the eyes of the person I´m in contact with and dark glasses makes it impossible. BTW, I´d like to read something about Stefano Pilati (YSL,my fav.). He seems quite `normal´and humble.

Phyllis said...

Strange as he is, if you go over to YouTube and watch Signe Chanel he comes off as a really great guy, and the workers in the couture atelier really love him. I doubt Mademoiselle's employees were ever feeling the love.