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Interview with Karl Lagerfeld


KARL LAGERFELD; a short conversation with a great informant (under difficult circumstances).

If it was the year 2004 and I would have interviewed the fashion designer and photographer for this column back then, I would have had a field day – would have described, how he came with delay to the vernissage of his «Fire Etchings»-photographs in the gallery Gmurzynska in St. Moritz. And how little time there was remaining for the many journalists. Perhaps I would have admitted that german colleagues got a longer interview-slot than I (for instance Sven Michaelsen and Philipp Jessen for Gala, a people-magazine, furthermore with the oldest trick – «We put him on the cover»). And possibly, that their columnist had to share his time with colleagues (and yet from Switzerland), because the last flight movement from the Airport Engadin Samedan/St. Moritz had to take place at 6:30 pm, also for private jets with Lagerfeld as a passenger. But this is 2013 and I display (mostly) what Lagerfeld answered  and said in little time (11 minutes and 8 seconds including greeting and saying good bye). He likes to be asked questions; interviews are his social life I think.

Politics and style

«When I interviewed you last time you said you would get inspiration from the financial crisis and financial fraudsters. What news currently affects you?» – «Everything, everything; zeitgeist, zeitgeist, zeitgeist. This shall not be put into words too much, otherwise this again becomes marketing, and I don’t do marketing. It’s a capture of the zeitgeist, without analyzing it but somehow instinctively making proper use of it for the work.» – «Are you worried about the new high tax for people earning very good money in France, where you live?» (75 percent taxes for income above one million euros.) «If looking for something to get the people out of the country, then they found something. But that doesn’t bother me.» – «Why not?» – «I live in a world apart from reality. I only care about my work, what I do in Paris, in Milan and Rome, what I do in New York and so on and so forth.» – «What do you think about Gérard Depardieu’s performance?» (He became an honorary citizen of Russia, received a passport from Wladimir Putin, wants to move to Russia.) «I mean he’s a funny guy, he’s a brilliant actor but I have the feeling that he did this for his driving licence; he has driving licence problems in France and in Russia you get it for free.» – «Are you interested in politics?» – «I’m quite up to date but because I have not yet voted in my life I also don’t have an opinion.» – «Why don’t you vote?» – «Because I can look behind the scenes too much to then still vote for the people.» – «How do you like the SPD candidate for chancellor Peer Steinbrück in terms of style?» – «In politics everybody can have his style. Ms Merkel’s style is right for her job. The germans better keep Ms Merkel.»

Karl Lagerfeld mit Brille und weissem Kragen

«Everything, everything; zeitgeist, zeitgeist, zeitgeist»: Lagerfeld, fashion designer and photographer, 84.

What Karl Lagerfeld cannot do

«Is Switzerland on your map?» – «I am no resident here and can therefore not say much about it. It’s a wonderful country, I haven’t been to Saint-Moritz for ages, you have a great view there with the snow and so, but I am not a man of leisure time or holidays . . .» – «‹No camper›, you once said.» – «Exactly. I only go out for the work, otherwise I stay at home with my books.» – «Is there something you can’t do?» –  «Playing the piano, this is the big regret of my life. I love music and I have many friends who truly can play.» – «Have you tried it?» – «For one year. Then my mother banged the piano lid on my fingers and said: ‹Go painting, that makes less noise.›» – «What is the most important thing you learned from your mother?» – «This, among other things.» – «You have a cat since recently, was it allowed to come along too today?» (This question came from a friend who works for Bolero; but there is something about it as I find.) «No, not today. But when I go to America or stay away for longer she’s coming along.» – «Even though she has her own governess, hasn’t she?» – «Yes, that is true.» – «You live luxuriously, could you imagine a normal life?» – «If i were to be pretentious I would say that I have a normal life. I work very much, it’s just the circumstances that lead to it being a little more beautiful.»

Karl Lagerfeld’s favourite restaurant

«Do you have a favourite restaurant?» – «Yes, ‹La Maison du Caviar› in Paris. But I don’t go to restaurants very often because I have my own diet; I have a cook.»

‹La Maison du Caviar›, 21 rue Quentin-Bauchart, Paris, France, phone +33 1 47 23 53 43


(According to a generally accessible encyclopedia on the internet.)

For a long time Lagerfeld claimed 1938 to be his year of birth, then later on 1935. In 2008, the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag published excerpts from the church baptismal registry of Hamburg as well as statements by the teacher and a classmate of Karl Lagerfeld, who named 1933 his year of birth. Nevertheless, still mysterious, on the 10th of september 2008 Karl was congratulated on his 70th birthday (analogous to 2003, when it was his «65th» birthday). Some journalists went by the fashion designer, others didn’t.

On the 7th of July 2013, «Welt am Sonntag» published Karl Lagerfeld’s true birthday; the 10th of September 1933. This publication is based on the book by leisure historians Maike and Ronald Holst from the Hamburg district of Blankenese. During research on their book «Women of Blankenese» they discovered a card with a birth announcement. On it «Otto Lagerfeld and Ms. Elisabeth, born Bahlmann» announced the birth of their son. On the card there’s a small additional card with a blue ribbon of silk with the inscription «Karl Otto», and below «Sunday, 10th of September 1933».