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