A chat with Karl Lagerfeld

“I don’t want to be anyone’s father generation, grandfather generation,”?says Lagerfeld. “I’m of no generation. I’m from every generation.”

It’s 5 p.m. and Karl Lagerfeld was due to arrive at 3:30 p.m. So his press team and I, sitting in his private office on Paris’ Left Bank, munch on Magnum ice cream bars (Lagerfeld directed commercials for the brand). I try not to drip chocolate as I carefully leaf through biographies on Chagall, Duchamp and Dali, just a few of the titles that make up four white walls of pristinely organized books.

A staffer offers me a pink bottle of Diet Coke emblazoned with a miniature ponytailed Lagerfeld and designed by the man himself. I pour the soda into a sleek, cube-shaped Orrefors glass created by, you guessed it, and then sip my drink underneath a giant, crystal, antique chandelier.

Finally, Lagerfeld arrives,  looking impenetrable in dark glasses and leather, but he has the sniffles. Welcome to Karl’s world, a contradictory mixture of the old-fashioned and thoroughly modern, the rarefied and the mass market, the untouchable and surprisingly vulnerable.

Nice to see you again. Have you read all of these books?

Yes, but you know most of the books are books you look at. This is not a library with reading books. My reading books are somewhere else. I haven’t looked at every book. I don’t buy them by the meter to make a wallpaper, hm? But you can spend hours looking at these. So when I’m late, I think people have so much to look at, to learn, that I don’t feel too guilty. But it’s not my fault because when the first appointment is late, you’re late after all the time. I had an appointment at 11, they arrived at half past 12. What can you do, huh?

It’s good to know that you’re human.

I look the part. But I’m not that human, hm? But more down-to-earth than me, you will never find. You cannot be more down-to-earth.

You’re about to relaunch your Karl Lagerfeld brand as two collections, both of which will be sold online and one of which is very affordable. Why now?

These days, it’s easier to use decent fabrics for not so much money. Really great. When I did H&M, which was seven years ago — I cannot believe it — I had a kind of appeal for people who buy inexpensive. I don’t say cheap because people are cheap, but clothes are not supposed to be cheap, they are supposed to be well designed and not expensive. There’s a very big difference, ah? So [the Karl Lagerfeld launch] has the top and [then also] the top of the inexpensive. I don’t say low because there is nothing low. When I did H&M, everyone said don’t do it. And it worked. When I took over Chanel, everyone said to me, don’t do it, it’s dead, it doesn’t work. It worked beyond. So I [had] better not listen to people and follow only my instincts.

Do you spend a lot of time on the Internet?

Yes. I spend a lot of time — no, time passes so quickly that nothing is ever a lot of time.

Do you ever shop online?

Not personally; I don’t do it because I don’t have the Internet.  But everyone around me does it for me. I buy things from the Internet, but it’s not me personally. I don’t give the number of my credit card and all those things. Excuse me one second. Why do we have a visitor? I didn’t know we were going to have a visitor. [Speaks in French] This is why I’m late you know, because people come who don’t have an appointment and say they do.

Life with Karl Lagerfeld.

Yeah, but it shouldn’t be, you know? [Laughs] I don’t make meetings, it bores me to death. I never make meetings. You know what I call meetings?

No, what?

Salary justification. That’s why people meet for hours. Whenever they want to talk to me, they meet for hours.

What is your response to people who say you do too many collaborations?

I couldn’t care less. It depends if I know the people. If unknown people say this, they should send me a note and explain why. The limit is up to me to decide.

You’re known for constantly moving forward and really capturing the now. But are there any moments from the past that you hold especially dear?

I’m not a vintage specialist, for nothing: not for my life, not for my work, for nothing. I have no archives. Maybe the houses keep archives. I have nothing. I’m not interested in what I did. I’m just interested in what I’m doing, what can be inspired.

You live in six different places — where are those six places?

I have one where I live and sketch. Here is my private office, then I have a townhouse for entertaining, my photo studio. I have all of this on the corner here, and then I have two apartments that are guests’ houses, because I don’t want people in my house. I don’t care so much, but they have to go home. I don’t want any promiscuity, I’m not into that.

Speaking of promiscuity, do you have much of a sex drive?

No, I’m not very much interested in that. But it’s not a question of time, people can make quickies, you know. [Laughs] If you ask this kind of question, you get this kind of answer. [Laughs]

Quickies can be fun.

Good, good, good! I find you talk like Europeans. [Laughs] I think sex is an overrated subject.

It’s the French way, though.

You know, I’m not French. I’m a bloody German.

When was the last time you were in love?

I don’t know. I like freedom.

Do you find relationships too constricting?

Relationships happen for everybody, it can never be a problem. But it’s not really my main thing.

If you had a child or a pupil or someone who you had to pass down words to live by, what would you pass down?

That’s why I don’t have children, hm? There’s nothing to pass down because everybody has to invent his own thing. I don’t believe in this because what I learned, saw and all that happened in other periods is different now. I have a godson, who is small, 3½ years old, genius. He’s got real personality and his parents have no authority. He loves clothes. He wants everything like me. He sleeps with his gloves and goes to school with black glasses on. It’s so funny. But I believe you have to find your own way. What I hate about children is that they put you in a generation mode. I don’t want to be anyone’s father generation, grandfather generation. I’m of no generation. I’m from every generation.

Have you ever had a pet?

Yes, but they die so I don’t like them. The drama is I had two I really liked, and after they died I don’t want another one. That’s too depressing.

Are you afraid of death?

I couldn’t care less. [Percy Bysshe] Shelley said, “Death may be a waking up from the dream of life.” But if you ask me, it’s like a sleep where you don’t wake up. You don’t remember before, you don’t remember after. The only thing is, I don’t want to be seen dead, huh? So anyway, over, over. The battery is finished, huh? Pfft.

Related:

Karl Lagerfeld on Lana del Rey, the Greek crisis and M.I.A.’s middle finger

VIDEO:
Karl Lagerfeld visits the Metro office

Karl Lagerfeld’s creative space: Where the magic
happens

How
Karl Lagerfeld stays fit

Straight
outta ‘212’: Rapper Azealia Banks

Nine women, nine global cities all in KARL (PHOTOS)



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

Mutant worms stay sober, even on alcohol

U.S. researchers have developed "mutant worms" that do not get drunk by alcohol, a breakthrough that could lead to new treatment for people trying to quit drinking

Local

K-9 nose helps capture $150K in cocaine at…

A furry, four-legged security agent helped authorities stop an illegal cocaine shipment from sneaking past JFK customs.

National

Minnesota man asked to leave Southwest flight after…

A man and his two sons were asked to leave a Southwest Airlines flight after the man sent a tweet complaining about being treated rudely by a gate agent.

National

Man sues hospital after surprise penis amputation

An Alabama man who went in to a hospital last month for a circumcision awoke after surgery to find his penis had been amputated, his lawyer said on Thursday.

Movies

Review: Brett Ratner's big 'Hercules' movie is small…

The latest "Hercules," starring Dwayne Johnson as the half-god beefcake of Greek myth, strips its hero and tale of most of its fantastical elements.

Arts

Scientists recreate world's smallest Monet copy

Scientists have reproduced a famous Impressionist painting using nano-printing, to create what has been described as the world's smallest work of art. Reworked at the…

Television

Jerry Seinfeld is ambidextrous, and other Reddit AMA…

See some of the weirder highlights of Jerry Seinfeld's recent Reddit AMA.

Going Out

Grab a pedestrian and start dancing at What…

As a New Yorker, I’ve mastered the art of focusing my gaze straight ahead. Though it occasionally piques my interest, the absurdities that play out…

U.S. Soccer

Orlando City takes shot at NYCFC over Frank…

Orlando City reminded the world how big a signing Brazilian star Kaka earlier this month with a photo of Kaka mobbed by fans juxtaposed against Lampard.

NBA

Jeremy Lin says 'Linsanity' is over as he…

Jeremy Lin lit up the NBA two years ago with his play for the Knicks but he has no desire to recreate "Linsanity" in his new career with the Lakers.

NFL

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player…

2014 NFL Fantasy Football Top 100 overall player rankings

U.S. Soccer

NYCFC announce signing of Frank Lampard

The tease of a big signing Thursday by new MLS side NYCFC ended up being one rumored for weeks. England midfielder Frank Lampard agreed to…

Tech

Forget Wi-Fi: Li-Fi could be the future

Li-Fi technology – developed by Mexican company Sisoft – is wireless internet connectivity using specialized LED light.

Tech

Weather app Climendo might be the most accurate…

The wait for a truly accurate weather forecast could finally be over thanks to a nifty new app called Climendo.

Tech

Napkin Table puts focus off the phone and…

Michael Jan, a design student at Tunghai University in Taiwan, has invented a serviette-picnic blanket hybrid called the Napkin Table.

Style

Essie's new Color Boutique

Essie launches high-tech kiosks at major airports and malls across the country.