Karl Lagerfeld Breaks It ALL Down For Us

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Karl_slide01Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
Not many 78-year-olds are known for throwing the coolest parties, but Karl Lagerfeld isn't your average 78-year-old. In response to what inspires him, he drops bombs like, "You want me to remain pretentious? Myself." Yep, the man is legendary in every sense of the word.

We got the chance to meet up with Kaiser Karl himself at the aforementioned shindig, the grand unveiling of his new namesake fragrances for men and women. Hosted in Paris at the Palais Brongniart, the event drew beauty editors from across the globe, as well as various movers, shakers, and pretty people on the French party circuit. Notably absent was Lagerfeld's beloved cat Choupette, but we assume she was doing something equally and/or even more fabulous.

The new scents for men and women are based on Lagerfeld's desire to create fragrances that echo his edgy style, while still feeling classic. The women's version uses notes of lemon, peach, roses, magnolias, plumeria, and ambery woody notes, while the men's scent is centered around an aromatic fern with lavender, mandarin zest, apple, violet leaves, sandalwood, and an amber blend.

The scents are now available exclusively at Macy's, and there's something about the mix of lavender, greens, and spice that makes for an unexpected yet alluring aroma we couldn't stop sniffing all night. Apparently, Karl is fan, too — a member of his entourage told us Lagerfeld likes to splash the men's scent on his clothes.

As the Kult of Karl raged on at the party, we sat down with Lagerfeld himself for a one-on-one interview that ran the gamut from why fragrance and fashion go hand in hand, to his thoughts on juicing. (And, yes, we definitely had a minor freakout when we came face-to-face with him.) The charming fashion icon dropped his infamous bon mots during our conversation: When we asked to pose with him for a photo, he preferred it to be taken by a third person. "Selfies are just a form of visual masturbation," he said. Love you, Karl.

Keep clicking to take a quick tour inside the fascinating mind of all things Lagerfeld.
Karl_slide02Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
You've said before that fragrance is fashion for the nose. Can you elaborate a bit more on that connection between the two?
"Today in fashion, it’s not just clothes. It has to be everything. It’s very important in the universe of the label of a brand to have a fragrance. I think fragrances are as important as clothes are. It’s what’s new to your skin. In today’s life, one has to use a fragrance because it’s impolite not to have a beautiful smell."

"Some perfumes you can really relate them to a period: the '20s, '30s, '40s. If you really know well the history of perfumes, there is a perfume that represents the period. Very few survived and became classic like Chanel No. 5. Not many can survive, it is a very cruel market. I [launched a fragrance] before with Elizabeth Arden, and it was one of the most sold fragrances in the world. They sold to another company and [claps hands together] after that we forgot everything. It's a bad souvenir — of that I have no memory. I only remember the pleasant things. I cannot remember anything unpleasant."

Between your design work, photography, fragrance creation, and now this hotel venture in Macau, you've got a lot on your plate. What is your secret to being such an efficient multi-tasker without driving yourself crazy?
"There is no secret. The secret is work and a clear mind and know what you want to do. Everything is like this in different boxes, so no confusion. I don't drink, I don't smoke, so my brain might be a little clearer than other people's brains, especially in this business, those who take so much. I'm a health freak, but I don't like that subject for conversation — fitness is as boring as sickness for a subject."

You have always been on the vanguard of nutrition and wellness, so what are your thoughts on how things like juicing, detoxing, and super-healthy living are now mainstream?
"It's a good thing for the social security! A lot of people want it, but not so many make a real effort. They think that if they run for an hour they can do everything, but I don't believe in that. Most of the people who run have to try to get rid of what they ate too much [of], so that's not really health. [Shrugs] That's the fashion. We live also in the world of junk food. They talk about health, but they eat junk food."
Karl_slides03Illustrated by Sydney Hass.
We know you're big on reading — your photo studio is packed to the rafters with books — so we'd love to know what your top five must-read books of all time are.
"In what language? In English, I like Emily Dickinson, Virigina Woolf...I like very strange things. I love poetry. In England, there is this very beautiful book by a few young poets who died during World War I. Raw poetry from 1914. In English, it's very, very beautiful and unknown. Siegfried Sassoon — you should read it, it's unbelievably beautiful. In French, I like Mallarmé, I like Verlaine. In German I like Rilke as a poet, and there's another one I like called Hugo von Hofmannsthal."

"There are many— the list is endless. I spent my life reading. I have not so much time. When I read I feel guilty because I say to myself 'but you have to do this.' Then it's even better because guilt at a certain level is a spicy feeling to enjoy what you are doing."

Do you read any online sites? Where do you go to spot the new trends and what the next cultural zeitgeist might be?
"Other people read for me. I have no time. My website is my brain. I got used to my iPhone. I use the iPad and things like this [picks up iPhone] for photos and for sketching. I am an expert on sketching on iPads. I use an application called Brushes. It takes a lot of time, the technique I use, because I use a technique of engraving. It takes hours. But, I'm pretty good at it. I don't do...big splashes with the fingers. I do it in a very refined way...this [technology] is great because it never existed before. But, I'm still a paper freak. I like the feeling and touch of paper.

It's been said by others in the industry that fashion has become too democratic, too accessible. What are your thoughts on this?
"Too much, never enough — it's very pretentious to say that there is too much. Who is allowed to do it and who is not allowed to? If people have money to spend to try, then they can try. It takes a lot of work for a lot of people. The world is open to all kinds of propositions, but not every proposition is serious or bringing something lasting. But, that's another story. Because if there are so many people who say 'oh, I don't do it anymore because there is too much,' then you can fall asleep. It is great to believe in things one shouldn't believe in."



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