Karl Lagerfeld Hates Whining, Likes Dallas
This year’s WWD CEO Summit featured candid discussions with fashion superstars such as Marc Jacobs and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. Yesterday afternoon, Karl Lagerfeld gave an interview to Bridget Foley for the conference’s grand finale. The likes of Sarah Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour, and model Brad Kroenig and his son (and Lagerfeld’s godson), Hudson, came out for the talk. Foley began by acknowledging last year’s numerous designer shake-ups and asked Lagerfeld what makes a successful designer/fashion house relationship (he’s been at Chanel since 1983, so presumably he has a good one). “I think the important thing is that you have to be behind the label and not use it as something that pushes your fame,” said Lagerfeld, adding later that his biggest irritations are “people who create complications” and “make things messy” because they think it causes them to seem serious. “This I hate. It’s the worst.” On the subject of Chanel as a business, he boasted that he’s never attended a meeting in 31 years (“Maybe there are marketing people, but I’ve never seen them,” he laughed) and noted that the house’s owner, Alain Wertheimer, never interferes with his creative process.
But that’s not to say Lagerfeld is out of touch with the house’s business side. In fact, he embraces his role as a “commercial” designer. Well aware that his Scottish Métiers d’Art show got him “100 million Euros in free advertising” from press, he feels his outrageous sets and locations make Chanel appealing to those viewing the collections online, rather than just to “fashion freaks.” He revealed that his next show stop is Dallas, because, after Coco Chanel reopened her atelier in the fifties, Neiman Marcus and the American press were supportive, while the French were not. “The Texan detail is a little [one], but with a little detail, you can tell a whole story. And I’m a storyteller.”
Couture, according to Karl, is not dead—apparently, Chanel’s couture clientele is up from twenty years ago. And when asked about designers who think the fashion schedule is too demanding—a topic about which he’s sounded off before—Lagerfeld quipped, “Don’t tell me that story. If you accept a job, you know the conditions of the job. After a certain amount of time, don’t start to play the victim…It’s like Olympic sports. You have to keep that level. And if you think it’s too much for creativity, don’t accept. Nobody’s forcing you to do the job. I do it because I enjoy it.” Other notable tidbits included his opinion on French politics (“I pay taxes in France, but I wouldn’t pay a cent more.”), whether technology has tainted fashion (“Oh no, no. We couldn’t do without it.”) his favorite artist (Jeff Koons: “He’s the right spirit of our times.”), and his sources of inspiration (“Everything. I’m a voyeur.”). Foley ended by asking Lagerfeld what his steps to success were. Naturally, this called for a Karl-ism: “A good staircase.”