On the Eurostar back from London this weekend, I read a piece on Karl Lagerfeld, subtitled 'The Most Powerful Man in Fashion'. I have to say I beg to differ, seeing as has been churning out variations on the same stunningly boring monochrome theme for for the past few years, single-handedly turning the House of Chanel into something appraoching a parody of what Mademoiselle envisaged until even the famously fawning Paris fashion press has been heard to mutter that the latest Chanel collection is a bit 'bof', but that's by the bye. I was interested to see that he used to look like this:
He now looks like this:
having passed through this, on the way:
How did someone who started off more or less normal-looking end up resembling such a preening Queen? (To prove my point, we'll overlook the bathing suit, here he is with his friend YSL). He's alarming enough in print but I bet in the flesh he has the sort of face that would make small children start crying. And probably adult members of the fashion press, where they not duty-bound to write that everything he does is marvellous.
In his 18th century hotel particulier, he has rooms full of hundreds of suits, jeans and fingerless gloves in the same colours, yet chooses to wear essentially the same thing every day. He finds the time to 'design' nine collections a year for Chanel, five for Fendi and several for his own-name labels in a few hours every morning, dressed in a long white smock. His desire to stay current is such that when reading substantial paperbacks, he tears out each page as he finishes it, and regularly gets rid of art, belongings and friends. I fail to see how someone so far removed from reality, cocooned in money and power, can possibly have any idea of what women would want to wear, yet he does, along with his enourmous entourage of helpers. He does not however, set trends.
Alicia Drake, a Paris-based British fashion writer has written an expose of Lagerfeld and Saint Laurent's bittersweet relationship entitled The Beautiful Fall, which documents their domination of French fashion in the seventies, incurring the wrath of the great man, who attempted to sue her, before proclaiming her book "the dirtiest thing in the world". I think I might read it for just that reason.