Lagerfeld Knows No Bounds

August 05, 2015


One of the best celebrity interviews I’ve read recently appeared in the Weekend Financial Times of July 4/5, 2015. The fashion editor of the paper, Jo Ellison, wrote an in-depth piece about the fabulous career and talent of Karl Lagerfeld: Who he is, what he thinks, where he works and how he creates.

Here is a brief excerpt from Ellison’s phone interview with Lagerfeld (he dismissed the publicist). “I don’t like it when a third person listens when I’m talking to someone,” he says.


  • Lagerfeld doesn’t like to talk about the past. He refuses to discuss his 50-year career with Fendi, for whom he was made creative director, in charge of fur and women’s ready-to-wear, in 1965. Nor will he dwell on his 32-year stewardship of Chanel, where he has been the chief designer since 1983.
  • In short, he juggles the demands of three entirely separate and visually distinct houses at the same time (Fendi/Chanel/Karl Lagerfeld). He is also the owner of Choupette, his adorable white, fluffy cat who has 64,000 followers on Instagram.


  • For Lagerfeld, nostalgia is poison for creativity. “I’m very much against it,” he says. “I’m always into the next step. I’m interested in what’s going on, not what has happened. I never look at the archives. I hate archives!”
  • He also foregoes deep analysis of his creative ideas. “I don’t put that into words because then it would become marketing.” And, when asked about global trends, Lagerfeld answers with a dismissive, “I’m not in the sales department.”


  • Lagerfeld always starts with a blank piece of paper and a pencil. “I sketch everything,” he says. “I don’t work with artists. I sketch everything myself.” He spends the early morning hours at his drawing board at home. “I don’t design on computers. It’s not that I don’t know how. I just don’t like it.”
  • “When I do a sketch that I keep (99% go into the garbage can) it is hardly changed. Look at the boards, at Fendi and Chanel. You’ll see the sketch and you’ll see the final dress and they are the same. I’m not there draping for hours and asking myself a hundred questions.”


  • Lagerfeld loves the act of discovery: be it a person, place, artist or book. He is a creative innovator who took the Chanel fashion show on the road for the first time. The pre-fall collection is now staged in a unique location every year and has inspired a dozen other houses to do the same.
  • For a man who bestrides the fashion landscape so completely, the hand-drawn sketch seems to be an excellent way of retaining creative control. “Exactly! Exactly!” he concludes. “Whatever that means, that’s what it is.”


It’s time to look ahead to the new fall season. Take a peek in your lingerie drawer and see what you need to replace. Or be bold and go in a new direction. Check these out:

Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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