fashion industry insiders on what made karl lagerfeld a genius
For i-D's 2012 Royalty Issue we spoke to models, designers, actresses and art directors on what made King Karl the one and only.
Photography Harry Carr
WHAT SETS KARL APART FROM OTHERS?
“I particularly admire the precision and detail Karl brings to his creative vision and his extraordinary capacity to create, to innovate, always coming up with just the right thing with his first shot. I am endlessly impressed by the breadth of Karl’s knowledge and culture, which make for the most fascinating discussions on subjects far beyond the world of fashion. In short, Karl is unique in his talent as a designer and his brilliant vision of the world and it is a pleasure to work with him and to be his friend.” Bernard Arnault, CEO of LVMH
“When I was very young, I was ‘Karlified’... this was 26 years ago and then, my life took an unexpected turn. With Karl, everything became funnier, simpler, faster. You’ve got a question for him? Count up to three, and you have the answer. It’s so simple!” Caroline Lebar, Director of Communications at Karl Lagerfeld
“His creativity beyond fashion and his heart.” Vanessa Paradis, actress
“The fact that he’s strangely inscrutable for somebody so omnipresent.” Edie Campbell, model
“He lives on a completely different plane from everyone else, he has reinvented living. He does
things completely as he dreams them, because he has no limits.” Florence Welch, Florence and the Machine
“He is loyal, affectionate, cultivated. He knows it all… I would be proud to have him as a son!” Lydia Courteille, jewellery designer
“His talents. That incredible way of flying from lightness to depth.” Anna Mouglalis, actress
“Is there anything Karl does not know? Anything he cannot do or cannot get? I guess not! When you are the Superman of fashion, even the sky has no limits.” Fabien Baron, art director
“He is a genius.” Anna Calabrese, Premiere at Fendi
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT KARL?
“He remembers everything from the past, but only looks to the future. He knows more, remembers more, sees more, and wishes for more!” Stephen Gan, Editor-in-Chief, V
“He’s a true gentleman.” Anna Calabrese, Premiere at Fendi
“His interest in life.” Vanessa Paradis, actress
“His incredible brain, but also his warmth and humour. I also love his disdain for jewellery security guards, and his habit of leaving his gems strewn about the house while he uses his safe ‘decoratively.’” Florence Welch, Florence and the Machine
“One of my favourite times working with Karl was shooting the Chanel campaign at his house in Biarritz. Karl had invited my husband and two young children to stay too. Business and pleasure rarely mix so well. The deep comfort and deliciously warm pool; Karl’s boundless generosity; watching Marcel, aged three, in deep conversation with Karl, over chocolate cake. All very memorable.” Stella Tennant, model
IF KARL WERE AN ANIMAL, WHAT WOULD HE BE?
“Silver fox is too predictable, so I’m going to go for size zero panda.” Nicholas Kirkwood, shoe designer
“A bejewelled hawk.” Florence Welch, Florence and the Machine
“I thought this would be an easier way of describing Karl, most labels and boxes miss the man but oh his mind, his sharpshooter wit, his elegiac eye… these have to be freighted into the animal mix! Karl is an amalgam -- an alchemical ectoplasm beneath the sleek exterior. He is a phoenix with the brainpower of a herd of elephants, a pod of dolphins and a parliament of owls. Add in a shark for engineering, a cheetah for speed and a fluffy white Burmese kitten with chalcedony blue eyes for a refined purr. I’m not sure what animal this is but part of Karl’s genius is that he’s difficult to define. A phoenantdolowlsheetah kitten?” Amanda Harlech, muse
“An octopus. They are smart and have eight hands. Plus specialists say that they can predict the future.” Natalia Vodianova, model
“A lion -- king of the forest.” Anna Calabrese, Premiere at Fendi
“A mix between a lion and a fox, he is very prominent like a lion and very smart like a fox.” Brad Kroenig, model
HOW HAS KARL INSPIRED YOU?
“Even in the middle of the night Karl can surprise everybody with his ideas and the precision of his vision, and he still has a lot of knowledge to share. At the same time he listens too because he’s very open-minded, and he makes me laugh talking about everything. After a day with him I can’t sleep because of the energy he spreads.” Antonella Antonelli, Editor-in-Chief of Marie Claire Italia
“Karl is a very free and extremely creative person. It’s an absolute joy to have him in my life. His influence in my life has enriched me, and continues to do so.” Anna Mouglalis, actress
“Karl is the most inspiring person I have ever met personally. Working with him is like an extra lesson in a multitude of disciplines, like the art of photography, cultural history, costume design. He is a gifted polymath whose humaneness I highly appreciate.” Christiane Arp, Editor-in-Chief of German Vogue
“My anxiety stops when Karl goes on set and starts talking. His vivacity, his humour and his intelligence always captivate me. I just feel like a spectator, I have no fear of what might be said or not. This is unique, and I live this dream every day!” Caroline Lebar, Director of Communications at Karl Lagerfeld
“I think a lot of people think he is really tough but he is really kind.” Georgia May Jagger, model
“I very much admire Karl as he has made himself a living, physical personification of his brand and you couldn’t ask for more dedication and devotion from any
living artist.” Nick Knight, photographer
IF YOU WERE GOING TO MAKE KARL A BAG WHAT WOULD IT BE?
“It would be a kitten carrier in galuchat (stingray), lined in sable!” Silvia Venturini Fendi, Head of Accessories at Fendi
WHAT SONG SUMS UP KARL?
“Grande, Grande, Grande by Mina.” Anna Calabrese, Premiere at Fendi
“I’m too sexy for my shirt.” Georgia May Jagger, model
“Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.” Hélène Arnault, pianist and friend
“Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, and Ode to Joy.” Florence Welch, Florence and the Machine