Numéro: So, in good shape?
Karl Lagerfeld: Yes, as long as it’s not in the plural. That said I don’t get fat anymore. I was on a diet for 15 years, but now I can eat all I want without ever gaining a gram. It’s very strange.
Age has no hold over you!
It all depends on the conditions in which you age. If you do it by avoiding excess, and in great luxury, it is effectively quite bearable.
Doesn’t getting old have its fair share of inconveniences?
For the time being, I’m not suffering terribly. I’ve had every test under the sun and they can’t find anything wrong. Call me back in ten years and we’ll talk about it again.
At your age though, isn’t it exhausting juggling three brands – Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld – and not forgetting all your other extra-curricular activities?
No, au contraire, it’s stimulating. All these designers who design exclusively for brands end up finding themselves completely sterilised. By dint of revisiting their own classics, they end up going around in circles, biting their own tails. As far as I’m concerned, I am obliged to constantly reinvent myself by going from one house to the next, which is what also allows me to see what’s happening next door. I’m constantly moving, which stops me from navel-gazing all day and becoming fossilised. Which suits me just fine, because otherwise I get bored. At Chanel I have a contract to do four collections a year – two ready-to-wear and two haute couture – but in fact I do ten, between the ready-to-wear and the couture, the pre-collections, the cruise collection and the Métiers d’Art, not to mention Coco Snow– which isn’t, I assure you, a capsule collection for cokeheads, but a winter sports line – and Coco Beach, for beachwear…
When Raf Simons left Dior, lots was said about how designers are overworked. What do you think about that?
Personally, I’ve never complained. And that is exactly why all the other designers hate me. They are only interested in their damn “inspirations”, they can spend an hour deciding where a button should go, or choosing sketches done by their assistants, which riles me to distraction. I am a machine. The worst thing about all of this, is that they try and blame me for their problems with working overtime. Azzedine [Alaïa], for example, before falling down the stairs, claimed that the supposedly unsustainable rhythms in fashion today were entirely my fault, which is absurd. When you are running a billion-dollar business, you must keep up. And if is doesn’t suit you, then you may as well mess around in your bedroom. I’m sorry but last year I lost my two best enemies Pierre Bergé and the other one. Azzedine loathed me, go figure. And for Pierre’s funeral, my florist asked me, “Do you want us to send a cactus?”
“Men’s fashion means little to me. I buy it, of course, but drawing a men’s collection and put up with all those stupid models, no thanks.”
And you and your funeral, do you see it more in Sidi Bou Said like Azzedine, or at the Madeleine?
How awful! There will be no burial. I’d rather die. Since those miserable Hallyday family stories, a funeral at the Madeleine looks like a joke. I’ve asked to be cremated and for my ashes to dispersed with those of my mother… and those of Choupette [Karl Lagerfeld’s cat], if she dies before me.
I don’t know what you’ve got against Azzedine. Personally, I loved him and you can’t say he lacked talent…
I didn’t say that. I never said anything, I don’t criticise him, even if at the end of his career all he did was make ballet slippers for menopausal fashion victims.
How is it you’re not blasé after sixty years of career?
Thank-you for reminding me of my seniority. Blasé? Oh no, never. In German Blase means “bladder”. On the contrary I think I’m quite lazy, that I could do better. I am never happy with myself. I have to give myself a kick up the behind to go forward, and the day of the show, backstage, I always say to myself, “Well my poor girls, with this we’ll not be doing the next one.” I get no satisfaction from the job I do. And that is what pushes me to continue, this permanent dissatisfaction and discontentment.
“If you don’t want to have your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!