The Tao of Lagerfeld

The aforementioned Vice interview with Karl Lagerfeld has been getting a lot of buzz, but it pales in comparison to a much lesser-known Lagerfeld interview I read a couple years back. Lagerfeld does not really suffer fools very well, so the Vice interview is a little awkward at times: It seems that his responses are often terse, since he doesn't want to waste energy giving his full insights to someone who can't appreciate them.

In contrast, Stephen Short sat down with Lagerfeld for the March 2008 issue of Prestige Hong Kong, and was fully prepared, intellectually, to earn the respect needed to really bring him out.

Some of my favorite bits:

On the legacy of Chanel and his personal status as an icon:

May I tell you something? I like today better than before. The late ’80s were an awful time. I like today, or maybe I like my life today. I’m much happier today than I was then. And I never smoke, I never drink, I never take drugs. A lot of people today, they’re not that fresh, hmm? They don’t have that much energy.

When people talk about the good old days, I say to people, “It’s not the days that are old, it’s you that’s old.” I hate the good old days. What is important is that today is good.

On choosing a career:

I’ve never done anything else in my life and I don’t want to do something else, no. I’m not a frustrated writer or architect, I’m frustrated by nothing at all, and frustration is the mother of all crimes. I wanted to be in fashion and I’m in fashion.

On a classical education:

I’m very much in favour of teaching that [Latin and Greek] culture in schools. People are so uninformed today, hmm? The other day I had an interview with someone from a French magazine, who was so uninformed, I said, “Are you sure you were the right person sent to interview me?” I had to keep saying, “I don’t know what you’re saying, I don’t know what you want, so let’s just talk shop.”

...I hate amateurs. I hate improvisation. Serious work can only be improvised if you have a real base. It’s like the piano. When you master it, you can improvise everything.

On nightlife:

I don’t want to have a social life. I’ve had enough of that in my life. It’s démodé. It’s another era. Perhaps people are still excited by that era, but not me. It’s uninteresting today. It says nothing. It’s boring, pretentious and vulgar.

On staying healthy:

Have you never heard of pollution? Look [he takes off his gloves], I have no age spots on my hands. It’s not because I’m wearing gloves to cover them. I never went in the sun, so I don’t have them. I stopped sun because I saw how it worked on other people I knew and decided to stop a long time ago. I consider myself a kind of Ferrari, so I take care of myself.
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