Who is Karl Lagerfeld? Everyone "knows" this man or at least recognizes his portrait. "Isn't that the Chanel's man?", perhaps most people will answer. Or: "Isn't he the fashion man with sunglasses and ponytail?" His name and appearance are known. But who was Karl Lagerfeld really?
Karl Lagerfeld, the person behind the fashion icon
As a Chanel lover, I could not let this book pass me by. After all, Karl Lagerfeld has for many years been the brain behind the Couture house Chanel and ensured that Chanel did not fall into oblivion but became an unprecedented - timeless - success.
Karl: I try to bring Chanel style evolution by thinking of Goethe's saying: "create a better future by building on the past."
The designer liked to quote philosophers and writers. He was a well-read person and owned a few hundred thousand books. Karl was a great talent with a big ego and a completely own created image.
Quote or be quoted
Karl (German by origin) started his career as a fashion designer in Paris around 1955 and it didn't take long before he became known and was quoted himself. His statements were always surprising, testified by great intelligence, but could also be hard and offensive.
Such as a false remark towards an actress, who he thought was "too fat".
Or a kick in the back of Ines de la Fressange (who turned his back on him after many years of collaboration). Not so nice... He was therefore a complex person, let's just say it, because we also know very well that statements by famous people are often pulled out of context and start to live their own life.
A savant idiot
Karl Lagerfeld was a genius with a vision. Like his friend Yves Saint Laurent, he was able to design clothes that the whole world loved for decades. He was hyper intelligent and had a sense of style, beauty and art. However, his intelligence made him difficult as well. Apart from all this, there were more things by Karl Lagerfeld that did not make him a beloved personality. His extravagant life also disappointed many people. Spending a fortune on a cat, deliberately not wanting children (supported by yet again 'surprising' statements) and living a life of extreme excess and opulence ... It made him as cold as his flawless appearance.
Read after all, get inspired and enjoy
However, this book was an eye opener for me. It is so easy to judge a person by his or her image. But you can only understand what lies behind an image, if you take a look behind the scenes.
Laurent Allen-Caron has made this book a simple, truthful and easy-to-read book. Laurent is a journalist himself and you notice that as a reader. He writes briefly and forcefully and stays close to the facts. His sources and notes are carefully mentioned.
The quotes make the book lively, as if you hear Karl talking. The book causes a smile here and there, for example:
"At the end of the sixties, fifteen years after his arrival in Paris, the press could finally spell the name Karl Lagerfeld flawlessly."
To Karl or not to Karl?
I just wonder if Karl Lagerfeld would have been happy with it... The book is compact, not too thick (240 pages) and is sober.
Karl probably would have preferred a thick, heavy coffee table book, full of photos, luxury and extravagant photos of his creations and himself ...
But there are more than enough of those books too. I love this book. This book is an honest and well-written portrait of an impressive life and man Karl Lagerfeld.