Deciphering Karl Lagerfeld after his death: The mysteries of a unique and complicated personality | Culture

Karl Lagerfeld continues to make as many headlines posthumously as he did during his lifetime. Four years after his death, many of his personal effects have been auctioned for millions of dollars, his close ones are still fighting for an inheritance still unresolved, his work will be the focus of the next great exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and his life is the subject of a series and movies. The mysteries of the German designer who revived Chanel after the death of its founder Coco are still as present as at the time. The difference is that now many have lost their fear of talking about the ‘Kaiser’ of fashion, who led Chanel for thirty years, served as creative director at Fendi and eventually founded his own eponymous label.

“I had one foot in Chanel and one foot in LVMH; he absolutely controlled the fashion world. So, yes, it was very difficult to talk about him, and the moment he died it became much easier,” she said. the world the journalist Raphaëlle Bacqué, author of the biography kaiser karl and co-creator of a Disney+ series with the same title, which is currently in development. Accustomed to inquiring into the spheres of power in France, Bacqué approached Lagerfeld for a series of reports on the designer in which he spoke of his family and his origins, which the designer preferred to silence. Of course, Lagerfeld was not happy, but Bacqué was motivated to investigate further.

Coincidentally, Lagerfeld died before the journalist published her book. After the designer’s death, the journalist began receiving calls from sources. “I had approached witnesses who did not want to talk. But at that moment (after his death) they called me (and said): ‘Can we meet? Now I really want to talk.” Bacqué does not reveal who called, but her book mentions model Inès de la Fressange, who portrayed Lagerfeld as ruthless even with her friends, and Gilles Dufour, the former Chanel studio director, among others.

Filming for the Kaiser Karl show began this week and will take place in France, Monaco and Italy. The series stars Spanish-German actor Daniel Brühl (Goodbye Lenin, Inglorious Bastards) in the title role and brings together a very European cast to recreate the life of the designer and Parisian fashion in the 1970s, before Lagerfeld became an icon. Arnaud Valois will play Yves Saint-Laurent, Théodore Pellerin will play the “poisonous” dandy Jacques de Bascher, Agnès Jaoui will play Gaby Aghion, the creator of the Chloé brand, and Jeanne Damas, the quintessential French ‘it girl’, will bring life to to Paloma Picasso. An anecdote involving Paloma Picasso symbolizes the competition between Saint Laurent and Lagerfeld: to avoid taking sides between the two, she had one make her wedding dress for the day, while the other did the evening.

“We wanted to create a European series that reflected what Lagerfeld was: a great European. (He was) a unique character, (he was) complicated and a liar,” Bacqué said. She goes on to insist that fashion is simply the backdrop for this series, which will discuss power and a singular moment in society. In the 1970s, Lagerfeld begins to create his personality again, moving away from some of the lies he had told when he arrived in France after World War II, such as when he claimed to be Swedish. “He was already beginning to say who he was and where he came from. He lived in Paris with his mother, Elisabeth, an important character in this story, and began to achieve great commercial success.

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld in the Chanel studio in Paris on March 5, 1984.John van Hasselt (fake images)

There was a fierce war between him and Saint Laurent, who was internationally recognized as a great designer, while Lagerfeld did not enjoy the same prestige. The six episodes of the first season, which will premiere in 2024, end at precisely the moment Lagerfeld’s success began with the achievement that followed it for the rest of his life: when he was hired by Chanel in 1982.

The project Jared Leto is currently working on seems most likely to contribute to the Lagerfeld mythos. The actor himself is producing the biopic (which does not yet have a release date). When discussing the film, Leto gains legitimacy by pointing out that he knew and interacted with the designer. “One day, I will play you in a movie,” Leto told Lagerfeld, as the actor recounted in an interview with Daily women’s clothing. “Only you, my dear, only you,” the kaiser is said to have replied.

Karl Lagerfeld and Jared Leto after a Chanel show in 2014.PIXELFORMULA/SIPA (PIXELFORMULA/SIPA / Cordon Press)

According to Bacqué, Lagerfeld’s imprint on the industry has more to do with business than art: he had a fierce career designing multiple annual collections, beyond the usual winter and summer seasons, and marked the beginning of a system based in the reign of artistic directors. She was behind the rise of many supermodels in the 1990s and was responsible for turning fashion shows into the extravaganzas they eventually became. According to Bacqué, Lagerfeld was more of a businessman than a poetic artist.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute will combat that view with its exhibition Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. It will examine the German’s work emphasizing his “stylistic vocabulary” from the 1950s to his latest collection in 2019, focusing on the sketches he drew freehand in a matter of seconds. Yes, he was productive but also very creative; as the exhibit’s curator said, Lagerfeld’s background also merits analysis. In September, Bolton was in Paris to preview the contents of the exhibition along with usa fashionAnna Wintour and singer Pharrell Williams, who was recently appointed creative director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line.

The exhibition seems to come from the Lagerfeld camp, as the closed-door presentation took place in the designer’s Parisian studio, and was clearly aligned with the desire of labels and creators to legitimize themselves within art, regardless of the commercial success of the work. In fact, Bolton did not refer to the show as a retrospective but rather as an “essay” on a specific aspect of Lagerfeld, “the secret code” that his lines represented.

“I made drawings of everything; she said that she started drawing before she could talk or walk. It was the main form of communication for him, whether it was by fax or iPhone,” Bolton said in the filing. He went on to explain that the exhibition will show the evolution of those drawings from paper to three-dimensional garments.

Sponsored by Chanel and Fendi, the exhibition will showcase 150 Lagerfeld pieces, from his work for Balmain, Patou, to Chloé, Fendi, Chanel and his own namesake label. At the time, Bolton argued that Lagerfeld’s creative process hasn’t been praised enough. Hence the efforts to decipher the “secret language” of the designer’s minimalist lines, which she used in the illustrations that she delivered to the workshop managers. The Met Gala on May 1 will also pay tribute to the designer; there we will see celebrities and creators reinterpret the universe of Lagerfeld.

Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld in a 2010 photograph.Stephen Lovekin (fake images)

Much of the work Lagerfeld did at the fashion houses he ran consisted of reinterpreting their codes, and he continued to connect with new audiences (and sell clothes). Therefore, this approach seems to be the only way to draw a direct line in Lagerfeld’s artistic career. As Wintour said of Lagerfeld: “Paradoxically, she has become a world-renowned figure while maintaining strict privacy in her life.” That same lifestyle explains the mystery of Karl Lagerfeld that journalists, producers and fashion historians are now trying to unravel.

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