Say what you want about Karl Lagerfeld, but there’s no disputing that he is a fashion institution and a fascinating individual, with a few…eccentricities, like any good “creative” person. Although his eccentricities aren’t restricted to appearance, if you ever see Karl in pictures, there are always a few undeniable facts:
1. His hair will be in a low, swept back ponytail.
2. His outfit will predominantly consist of black, including black skinny jeans.
3. His hands will invariably contain a collection of heavy silver rings.
The fashion documentary, Lagerfeld Confidential, directed by Rodolphe Marconi, cements all of these facts and more, by granting the viewer a brief look into the fashion maestro’s world through personal interviews; behind the scenes access to the Chanel fashion show; and a view into his personal abode, so that you see Karl Lagerfeld in all of his facets: photographer, designer, and marketing genius.
Although the documentary hardly offers an unguarded look into his life (he barely takes off his trademark sunglasses during the film) and Marconi doesn’t delve deeply into controversial topics apart from a brief foray into the topic of homosexuality, the highlight of the documentary is the personal access that it gives the viewer. It allows the viewer to see details such as how many iPods he owns (I spied at least 10, but there may have been more), exactly how many of those heavy silver rings he owns, and how many paparazzi Nicole Kidman (just one of the many celebrity cameos in the film) must deal with on a daily basis.
The personal interviews also offer interesting bon mots from the master himself such as “Success nullifies” and “A violent reaction is a reaction. No reaction at all is death.” The last phrase was said in response to critics who proclaimed that “Chanel would turn over in her grave!” and criticized his designs for the first collection he designed for the label (which he personally described prior to his takeover as a “Sleeping beauty—not even a beautiful one, she snored.”).
Overall, the documentary is an interesting brief foray into the life of one of the most famous fashion designers, and a must-see for anyone who is interested in the legend himself. Lagerfeld Confidential is available via rental from Netflix, and also for purchase from Amazon.
P.S. For anyone interested in fashion documentaries, I highly recommend watching Unzipped, a slightly older documentary which focuses on Isaac Mizrahi’s journey to design his autumn 1994 collection. Mizrahi is sardonic, witty, and extremely personable to watch throughout the entire film, and personal appearances from pre-French First Lady Carla Bruni and a young Naomi Campbell abound. It is also available for rental via Netflix and Amazon, and really gives an in depth into the creative process for designing a collection.