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Karl Otto Lagerfeld is the head creative director of the fashion house Chanel as well as the Italian house Fendi and his own eponymous fashion label. And is well recognized around the world for his white tied-back hair, black sunglasses, and mile-high starched collars.
He was born on 10 September 1933, which makes him 85 this year. And it feels like his career has just begun. I love his work. He’s a creative marketing genius. I’m in awe.
And, I think he’s really funny, too.
Here are some of his thoughts. (Drumroll please)
“I do my job like I breathe.”
” My job is to bring out in people what they wouldn’t dare do themselves.”
“Bling is over. Red carpetry covered with rhinestones is out. I call it the new modesty.”
“I send notes. I’m not a chambermaid whom you can ring at every moment. Today, you know, most people act like they work at a switchboard in a hotel.”
“The worst thing is when friends say, ‘Remember the good old days?’ Forget about the good old days! That just makes your present secondhand. What is interesting is now.”
“The brain is a muscle, and I’m a kind of body-builder.”
“My only ambition in life … is to wear size 28 jeans.”
“I get along with everyone except for men my age, who are bourgeois or retired or boring.”
2011 – On designers who complain:
“Please don’t say I work hard. Nobody is forced to do this job and if they don’t like it, they should do another one. If it’s too much, do something else. But don’t start doing it and then say, ‘Aaaah, it’s too much’. Because a lot of people depend on it. What we do at Chanel, thousands of people work on these things; these things are sold in hundreds and hundreds of shops all over the world. People like the big machine, and the money the big machine involves, but the effort… Then, suddenly, they become artists. They are too weak. Too fragile. Non. We have to be tough. We cannot talk about our suffering. People buy dresses to be happy, not to hear about somebody who suffered over a piece of taffeta. Me, I like to make an effort. I like nothing better than concrete reality. I’m a very down-to-earth person, but it is my job to make that earth more pleasant.”
“I’m very much down to earth, just not this earth.”
Karl Lagerfeld may very well be fashion’s most quotable personality. And now, with a new interview in the New York Times, the Kaiser has revealed how much he dislikes what other people think or say, his distaste of anything old (and selfies), and how he might have multiple personalities. Here, the most interesting information Lagerfeld has let out.
Karl doesn’t care what you have to say.
”There are not too many people with an opinion I care for.”
And if you’re a guy, that’s especially true
“I’m not crazy to discuss fashion with men. I couldn’t care less about their opinion.”
Lagerfeld gave Hervé Legér his now famous name.
Hervé Peugnet worked as the designer’s assistant at Fendi, but eventually became Hervé Legér, the surname meaning French for light, because Lagerfeld found the name weighty. “I said, ‘Hervé, this name is not possible, it’s too heavy,’” Lagerfeld said.
Even though he designs 17 collections every year, he thinks stress is for the weak.
“I don’t believe in it. It’s a job, one should not become hysterical.”
Lagerfeld doesn’t like the word anniversary or old things.
“This is one of the sicknesses of our period, to look back. No, forget about it. Fashion is now and tomorrow. Who cares about the past? But at Fendi, they like to tour the past.”
He hates the past so much that he won’t visit the massive upcoming showcase at the Bundeskunsthalle museum featuring his work.
“As long as you’re in the business, you must not think about your own work. In Germany, they made a huge exhibition of everything I did, Fendi, Chanel, Lagerfeld, Chloé and all that. I’m not even going to the show. I don’t care.”
And he doesn’t archive anything.
“I keep nothing. What I like is to do — not the fact that I did. It doesn’t excite me at all. When people start to think that what they did in the past is perhaps even better than what they do now, they should stop. Lots of my colleagues, they have archives, they look at their dresses like they were Rembrandts! Please, forget about it.”
He designs for many different labels and maybe has a different personality for each.
“When I’m at Fendi, I don’t even remember what I am doing somewhere else, and if I am somewhere else, I forgot what I did here,” Lagerfeld said. “What I do for Chanel never looks like Fendi. I have no personality. Perhaps I have three.”
Now, you know.