July 22, 2024


Built General Tough

Karl Lagerfeld’s friend remembers

Paris –

Haute couture shows without an audience – the Parisian fashion world has to reinvent itself in the Corona crisis. Recently, only a few handpicked stars were allowed to come to Chanel, the former home of fashion czar Karl Lagerfeld, among them Marion Cotillard and Vanessa Paradis.

All other guests had to watch the presentation on the screen. Would the star designer Lagerfeld, who died around two years ago, have done a show without an audience?

“That would not have been inconceivable for Karl,” replies model Baptiste Giabiconi, who was close to the “Kaiser” for a long time. His autobiographical book with memories of Lagerfeld was published in German on Monday. “Karl was a man who faced situations. He would have done it. That was an upright man. “

Lagerfeld died on February 19, 2019 in Neuilly at the gates of Paris. In the fashion capital, the native of Hamburg was considered a “monstre sacré”, a cult figure. Sunglasses, white powdered braid – those were his trademarks. It was often unclear who was hiding behind this facade. Giabiconi already published his emotionally tinged memory book in France last year, and now the German translation with the title “Karl and I” is coming out.

Corona lockdown, exit restrictions, home office – in times of crisis, jogging pants became popular, which Lagerfeld mocked. The fashion pope always kept to style, said Giabiconi of the German press agency in Paris. “He always left the house perfectly – nice suits, high shirt collars, well coiffed.” So no jogging pants. “But he wore very long nightgowns to relax.” The 31-year-old author is open-minded: “I can understand that people don’t necessarily want to wear a suit when they work at home.”

Giabiconi, who comes from the Marseille area, reports in the book how he was discovered as a young man in 2008 by the then creative director of Chanel. From this a friendship developed for years. The “beautiful boy” and the aging ambassador of Parisian chic – this has often been speculated about. One can assume that the relationship was platonic. The male model also posed for nude photos.

The dandy and his muse were linked by a pet that later became world famous: Choupette, the Birman cat. “Every time I see her, I also see part of Karl,” says Giabiconi in the singing tone of the south of France. After the death of his mentor, his governess Françoise took over responsibility for the noble cat, which is doing well. “It is still Françoise who takes care of Choupette, as Karl wanted”. Baptiste, as he was called by Lagerfeld, was the first owner of Choupette. Later he gave the pet to the “emperor” – because he no longer wanted to give it away.

The ruler of fashion as a person with feelings – an unfamiliar perspective. “He was funny, sociable, always attentive and generous,” writes Giabiconi. Things looked different in talk shows or interviews, because Lagerfeld often didn’t mince his words. He once referred to the French version of the #MeToo movement or criticized Chancellor Angela Merkel for her refugee policy.

The longtime creative director of Chanel was a workhorse to the end, taking photos, planning books and taking care of ten things at the same time. The riddle of Lagerfeld’s age is not solved – he never brought up the subject, says Giabiconi. Lagerfeld was born the son of a canned milk manufacturer – according to his own statements in September 1935, which would have made him 83 years old. According to his French biographer Raphaëlle Bacqué, he died at the age of 85.

Giabiconi, who also takes care of an agency for young talents, is by his own admission “the first in Karl Lagerfeld’s will”. However, he makes it clear that it still takes time: “At the moment, a lot of people are examining Karl’s inheritance. I’m not alone, ”he sums up. “We are waiting for the lawyers and the experts to finish their work.”

There are certainly ideas for the future, says Giabiconi: “A Karl Lagerfeld Foundation would be appropriate for the successor to Karl. A Karl Lagerfeld Prize could be extremely interesting. ” If it should come to that, a famous motto of the fashion icon (“It starts with me and it ends with me”) would be at least partially refuted.

Baptiste Giabiconi, Karl and I, The story of a special friendship, Munich (Heyne-Verlag) 2021, 20 euros. ISBN: 9783453218147

Raphaëlle Bacqué, Kaiser Karl, Paris (Albin Michel) 2019, ISBN: 9782226439598

© dpa-infocom, dpa: 210208-99-347335 / 2 (dpa)