Remembering Karl Lagerfeld

Colleagues and friends gather at the Grand Palais, website of numerous of his elegant Chanel shows, to honor the late designer.


Credit Credit Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York City Times

PARIS– Like numerous complex and forceful people Karl Lagerfeld– the German-born and Paris-based designer who, until his death in February, had actually been imaginative director of Chanel considering that 1983 and Fendi since 1965– was someone to the broad world and another to his good friends.

Concealed behind the armor Mr. Lagerfeld wore in public– dark glasses, tight black jeans, ponytail lightened with imported Japanese powder, fingers barnacled with Chrome Hearts rings– was a man who in reality spent much of his adult years dealing with his mother and later (and more openly, until his death at 85) with his Birman cat, the feline Instagram star Choupette

” Karl liked the recognition,” Amanda Harlech, a British aristocrat who was the designer’s innovative helpmate for decades, stated on Thursday before a memorial sponsored by Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld, the brand. More than 2,500 invited guests assembled on a gusty summer night inside the huge cast-iron and glass cathedral that is the Grand Palais, natural light still filtering in well into the night on the cusp of the solstice. “Karl would state, ‘The whole world acknowledges me, but they do not understand me at all’,” Ms. Harlech stated.


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A layered personality who declared to have “a Google brain” and to ignore the past was stimulated during a tapestried homage including video testimonials and clips from throughout his long life and readings from preferred authors like Stéphane Mallarmé, Colette and Edith Sitwell performed by Tilda Swinton, Fanny Ardant and Helen Mirren. There also were performances by Lil Dollar, the star of a Memphis dance design called jookin; Pharrell Williams; the performance pianist Lang Lang, who played Chopin; the violinist Charlie Siem; and a performers of 17 tango dancers from Argentina. “Karl loved music and he enjoyed to dance,” Ms. Harlech said. Amongst his favorite home entertainments, she added, was driving late at night along the corniche in St.-Tropez with the top down on his convertible Rolls-Royce. “He ‘d stand on the seat with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ playing full blast,” she said.

A polyglot designer, professional photographer, director, publisher and owner of a Left Bank bookshop that fueled his bibliophile dependency, Mr. Lagerfeld sped through life collecting furnishings, homes, experiences and people and operating according to one simple precept: Never recall.

” He saw level of sensitivity as weakness,” Victoire de Castellane, innovative director of Dior Precious jewelry, stated.


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Mr. Lagerfeld himself when revealed comparable sentiments, although more flatly. “When individuals show me their behinds, it doesn’t bother me,” he stated, utilizing a saltier term. “When they show me their feelings, I don’t like it at all.”

Like Andy Warhol, Mr. Lagerfeld was endowed with powerful gifts, had of apparently limitless energy and a steely ego. He likewise, like Warhol, had a distaste for his own physical form. “Karl physically concealed himself– behind his work, behind his desk, behind his fan, behind his mountains of books,” stated Francesca Amfitheatrof, a long time Lagerfeld collaborator and now creative director of the jewelry division at Louis Vuitton.

For many years, Ms. Amfitheatrof kept in mind, Mr. Lagerfeld had problem with his weight prior to strenuous dieting delivered his slim body suitable. “He even concealed his hands with rings,” Ms. Amfitheatrof said, adding that Mr. Lagerfeld’s mom, an accomplished violinist, notoriously dissuaded him from following in her musical steps, in part since she declared he had unsightly hands.


Credit Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

Known as Kaiser Karl to outsiders, Mr. Lagerfeld was extravagant with those in his circle, nostalgic and supportive, demanding commitment however likewise returning it, buddies said. “He had a household, and everybody in it had their place and their part,” said Michel Gaubert, a sound designer who for three decades produced the soundtracks for Mr. Lagerfeld’s opulent Chanel shows, for which the designer ransacked the corporate coffers to transform the Grand Palais into a supermarket, a cruise liner or a beach Once, on an impulse, Mr. Lagerfeld had an iceberg trucked in from Sweden to use as a backdrop for a ready-to-wear collection.

” It was a little like a court,” Mr. Gaubert included. “The king is starving, the king wants to celebration, the king desires to dance.”

For some in a gathering that consisted of Anna Wintour, the editor of American Style and artistic director of Condé Nast; the Japanese artist Takashi Murakami; squadrons of Chanel-clad members of the French elite; and Bernard Arnault, billionaire owner of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, Mr. Lagerfeld was remembered less for his contributions to style throughout a half century at the top of the market than for his omnivorous cravings for each brand-new kipping down the culture, a compulsion to discover the next huge literary, photographic, creative or intellectual thing.

Speaking in rapid-fire pronouncements in the three languages in which he was fluent (German, French and English), Mr. Lagerfeld charged through life without stopping except, maybe, to make up the personal notes for which he was famous among pals or to reveal a playfulness and sentimentality that the public rarely saw.

” Karl is faithful, really devoted” to buddies, stated Carine Roitfeld, the previous editor of French Vogue, who was selected design adviser to the Karl Lagerfeld label not long after his death. “I still discuss him in today,” Ms. Roitfeld included, “due to the fact that for me he’s still here.”


Credit Dmitry Kostyukov for The New York Times

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