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2013 November 7

Karl Lagerfeld Opens Up To Jessica Chastain About Life, Sweatpants, and Paper

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Karl Lagerfeld and Jessica Chastain Karl Lagerfeld and Jessica Chastain
Patrick McMullan
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(New York) Last night Harper’s Bazaar and Hearst hosted a conversation between Karl Lagerfeld and actress Jessica Chastain to reflect on his career and get a little more insight into that genius mind. The evening honoring the Kaiser was a black tie benefit for the Lincoln Center Corporate Fund and brought out the likes of Ralph and Ricky Lauren, Carolina Herrera, Stephen Gan, Pat Cleveland, Ingrid Sischy, Laura Brown, and Bazaar’s EIC Glenda Bailey, for pre-chat champagne and a post-chat sit down dinner of miso glazed black cod at Avery Fisher Hall. We wrote down some of our favorite Karl tidbits from the night because we knew this quote machine would deliver. Did he ever...

All about baby Karl: “I was apparently very cute!”

Childhood memories, revealed: “I hated to be treated as a child. I turned my back to anyone who treated me like one and never spoke to them again.”

A very classic Karl quote worth repeating: “Dieting is the only game where you win while you lose. It’s true."

On his earliest fashion forays: “My first experience in fashion was studying the history of costume because I wanted to be an illustrator so I studied every book about costumes from [every] period. I wanted to be a cartoon artist and illustrator, but I ended up in fashion, which I always loved."

Mommy dearest... “My mother never saw a show of mine. When she was 70, she decided 'no skirts anymore, long skirts make me look old.' Her favorite designer was Sonia Rykiel. She couldn’t care less about what I was doing.”

His grind, decoded: “This is a full-time job 24 hours a day. This is not a job where you say, ‘Oh, I start at 8!’”

Why Karl became a cat owner: “Dogs need a country house and you need to walk them in the street, I cannot walk them on the street anymore. I’m too easy to recognize. In the age of cell phone, it’s not a pleasant thing for me to walk on the street. It’s a nightmare.”

Most expected quote of the night: “Choupette is the most beautiful cat in the world.”

Sweetest soundbite: “Perhaps [Choupette has] helped me to become a nicer person. There’s something very touching about her."

Oh, Karl! “I’m never pleased with what I’m doing. I always think that I could be doing better, that I’m lazy, I could improve.”

How does he keep going?! “I’m the most boring person in the world, but it allows me to survive. If you don’t drink, you don’t smoke, and don’t take drugs, you still sleep for seven hours. I've never even wanted it. Life is quite pleasant because you don’t feel tired or exhausted. I know that’s very boring, but I admire people who destroy themselves. I would hate to be friends with people like me.”

The Kaiser's inner bookworm: “I read ten books at the same time in three languages."

On Marlene Dietrich: “I met her in the Seventies and she was kind of strange. In German she could be funny, because she had this accent from Berlin that was quite funny. In English she was a very icy Hollywood star from another era.” 

Lagerfeld's genius, explained: “I like information, which is why I have so many books. That’s how I ended up with a library of 300,000 books. The worst thing about it is I don’t know where to put all of them. I’m enchanted.”

No iPad for him: “No! I like paper. I’m a paper freak. I was born a paper freak and I will die a paper freak.  To me paper is the most important thing in life."

Does the Kaiser own any sweatpants? “What? No.”

If he could costume any character in a play, book, or film... “It depends on who plays the part.”

Red carpet musings: “It’s always the same silhouette. Fashion is something else, but the red carpet is part of the real world. I don’t even discuss it, [but] it’s something that exists. Photo call and the red carpet for a certain kind of people is part of their daily life.”

Best quote contender: “There are so many things that I like that one life will never be enough for everything.” 

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