Karl Lagerfeld and What Makes Him Tick
Karl Lagerfeld says couture isn't dead! On the brink of the Parisian haute couture runway shows, the iconic visionary behind the Chanel Brand, down with Women's Wear Daily to talk about everything from art to his inspiration - no, it's not his cat.
On Resurrecting the Chanel Brand:
"Ten or 11 years after [Coco Chanel's] death, it was a sleeping beauty with one idea: respect. The good thing about Chanel is that her whole life was not that flawless that, “Yes, we have to be respectful.” The other side, that’s about fashion. Only doing an homage really gets nowhere. That’s boredom incarnated."
“If you accept a job or it’s something that is your own business, you do it decently, or you forget about it. I am beyond. I can do whatever I want, in the most perfect conditions, and it works. In a moment in the world where not so many things are working that well, I am very lucky and hope that this reflects in my work. Work conditions are important. I mean, I don’t want to run a company myself. I have nothing against business. My father was a businessman, but I like the creative freedom.”
On What Inspires Him
“Everything. I am what people call a voyeur. I look at everything. I remember everything. I can redo things my way because a bad idea of somebody else can give you a good idea. I am like a building with an antenna that captures everything. I want to know everything. I read every magazine. I want to be informed. I think that’s exciting about fashion. You look at paintings from whatever century, but you can only date them by the clothes. That means fashion is important.”
On His Favorite Artist
“My favorite is Jeff Koons, because I think that’s the right spirit of our times. I like the spirit, the proportions, the person, the whole thing. When I like something though, I don’t ask myself why. I only like it, that’s all.”
On Other Interests
“You never know where good photography is. I love to do architecture. It’s interesting for a designer to do photos, because if not, you are isolated in your studio after you do a collection. Doing photos, doing advertising, you meet with other people. You are not isolated. The worst thing in fashion, which was the case with couture in the past in France, is the ivory tower. I think that’s like a cemetery. I am very much against it.”
“Somebody once said that couture was dead when someone closed their house. Apparently, it’s not really true, because, in fact, there are more clients for couture than there were 20 years ago. The clients look like models. They could buy ready-to-wear and buy it because some of the rtw today has the prices of couture in the past. There are so many new worlds and so much new money. They’re interested in it because they discover it.
I think couture has a real reason to exist in a limited way, like Chanel or Dior, because they have a real couture house organization. Small designers who don’t have a real organization should do expensive rtw, because couture is not just the same dresses made-to-order, but it’s also the presentation, the fittings, the whole thing that goes with it. There is something mythical about it that cannot be improvised. You can make very good clothes at home on a limited scale but a real couture organization...there are very few left.”
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