Advertisement

karl lagerfeld insults just about everyone in this outrageous interview

The 84-year-old designer gives Donatella Versace a run for her money in the stakes for most controversial fashion interview of the week.

by Ryan White
|
13 April 2018, 11:42am

Photography Karl Lagerfeld. The Royalty Issue, no. 318, 2012.

Oh, Karl Lagerfeld. Purveyor of tweed suits. Lover of cats. What does fashion look like without you? Closing Paris Fashion Week each and every season with a Chanel show so vast and audacious it makes Alessandro Michele’s Gucci look like off-schedule capsule collection presentation, Karl has never been one for modest statements. Whether it’s a set to look like a forest, spaceship or Ancient Greece, his fashion month finales and cruise collections are all the more necessary when so many designers eschew drama in place of understated elegance these days. But, with big shows, comes big opinions.

Though he’s never really been known for his anodyne views, speaking to French magazine Numéro this week, one can’t help but think Karl has reached new levels of insouciance. Following on neatly from Donatella Versace’s no holds barred chat on life, love, drugs, sex and murder with SSENSE earlier this year, the 84-year-old creative director, who heads up three labels (Chanel, Fendi and his namesake brand) discussed the fashion industry, new gen designers like Virgil, Harvey Weinstein and #MeToo, male models, body hair, Alaia and potential successors at Chanel. Naturally, readers discretion is advised.

On heading up three different brands at once…
It’s stimulating. All these designers who design exclusively for brands end up finding themselves completely sterilised. By dint of revisiting their own classics, they end up going around in circles, biting their own tails.

On Coco Snow...
At Chanel I have a contract to do four collections a year -- two ready-to-wear and two haute couture -- but in fact I do ten, between the ready-to-wear and the couture, the pre-collections, the cruise collection and the Métiers d’Art, not to mention Coco Snow -- which isn’t, I assure you, a capsule collection for cokeheads, but a winter sports line -- and Coco Beach, for beachwear…

On claims that creative directors are overworked…
Personally, I’ve never complained. And that is exactly why all the other designers hate me. They are only interested in their damn “inspirations”, they can spend an hour deciding where a button should go, or choosing sketches done by their assistants, which riles me to distraction. I am a machine.

On his arch-nemesis Azzedine Alaïa...
Azzedine, for example, before falling down the stairs, claimed that the supposedly unsustainable rhythms in fashion today were entirely my fault, which is absurd. When you are running a billion-dollar business, you must keep up.

Interviewer: you can’t say he lacked talent.

I didn’t say that. I never said anything, I don’t criticise him, even if at the end of his career all he did was make ballet slippers for menopausal fashion victims.

On Pierre Bergé, YSL co-founder...
And for Pierre’s funeral, my florist asked me, “Do you want us to send a cactus?”

On what keeps him going…
I get no satisfaction from the job I do. And that is what pushes me to continue, this permanent dissatisfaction and discontentment.

On male models…
Men’s fashion does little for me. I buy it of course, and I’m delighted that Hedi [Slimane] is going to Céline but drawing a men’s collection and having to put up with all those stupid models, no thanks. Not to mention the fact with all their accusations of harassment they have become quite toxic. No, no, no, don’t leave me alone with one of those sordid creatures.

On #MeToo and Harvey Weinstein…
I’m fed up with it. What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses. That said I cannot stand Mr Weinstein. I had a problem with him at amfAR [the amfAR Gala is organised during the Cannes Film Festival in the fight against AIDS] …

I read somewhere that now you must ask a model if she is comfortable with posing. Its simply too much, from now on, as a designer, you can’t do anything. As for the accusations against the poor Karl Templar [creative director at Interview magazine], I don’t believe a single word of it. A girl complained he tried to pull her pants down and he is instantly excommunicated from a profession that up until then had venerated him. It's unbelievable. If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!

On LVMH Prize-winner Marine Serre…
1m50 but a will of steel.

On Jacquemus…
He makes me laugh… and is rather pretty too.

On Jonathan Anderson…
His approach is occasionally over intellectualised -- undoubtedly, I haven’t done the required studies.

On who he’d willingly take to a desert island: Virgil Abloh, Jacquemus and Jonathan Anderson?
I’d kill myself first.

On body hair…
Well let’s just say I have it where it should be. But I don’t have a hairy chest for example, or a hairy back -- thank God! -- or hairy thighs…

On his fortune…
I’m certainly not Bernard Arnault, I’ll tell you right away. It’s not like I have 72 billion euros in my current account.

Back onto male models…
[Sébastien Jondeau, his personal assistant on 20 years] embodies a male canon that is the complete opposite of those skinny things with wonky teeth we generally see on runways… They certainly don’t run the risk of getting harassed. To be honest what they really need is a good dentist.

On being considered a genius…
A genius? It’s you who said it. When I was young, my mother always said to me that I was stupid, she called me “Mule”. I’ve probably just been overcompensating ever since.

Get the best of i-D straight to your inbox by signing up to our newsletter.