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2011 February 10

Lagerfeld Confidential!

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Mike Sodini and Karl Lagerfeld Mike Sodini and Karl Lagerfeld
Courtesy Mike Sodini
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(NEW YORK) Ever wonder what it’s like to live the good life in Karl’s entourage? The Daily tracked down Mike Sodini, a former insider now living in Las Vegas, for a taste of la vie en Lagerfeld. BY EDDIE ROCHE

When did you meet Karl Lagerfeld?
Around 1999, when I first started modeling. Karl said he wanted to meet me to see if I was right for a Visionaire shoot he was doing. My agent at Click told me there was no way I was going to get it. Meanwhile, I was up for a job with Playboy where I was going to be featured in a suit. My booker was sitting at the table when I got the Lagerfeld call, and he said, “Bad news. You’re probably going to miss your shoot for Playboy.”

Did you know who Lagerfeld was?
No. I remembered a cologne. I asked my booker, “Who is Karl Lagerfeld again? Is it that important?” The whole deal was that once he took a look at me, he’d fly me back to do the Playboy job. I flew to Paris and met him in his studio. He came in carrying a fan and wearing his glasses. He saw me and thought I was perfect for the shoot. He wanted to do some shots on the spot. Well...we ended up shooting and shooting, and I missed my flight back to New York. I was cursing. I didn’t want to lose the Playboy job. His driver told me to relax, and he called Karl. Next thing I knew, the driver said, “Karl’s gonna put you on the Concorde! You’ll get back in time for your job.” I’m like, “What?” Four weeks earlier, I was a glorified secretary for my family’s business. Now I’m on the Concorde?!

Tell us more!
He had a little bit of an entourage. He introduced himself and wanted a few shots of me right away. He asked me to take off my shirt, and then the rest of my clothes. I always got naked jobs, so it was no big deal. He snapped some photos. They brought out a futuristic bike for me to sit on. He finally said I could put my clothes on. He looked at my book. He was a nice guy, but to me, he was just a guy. At the time, I didn’t realize he was this fashion icon. He would ask me about everything, and you could tell he really wanted to know the answers. He wasn’t just making small talk. He would ask me questions about my relationship with my mother. He brought me to Paris a few other times to shoot. I did Interview magazine. He had me play a young Ernest Hemingway. He would always have me play a role.

Did you ever do a campaign? 
No. I was always told it would go that direction, but I only stayed in modeling for a year and a half.  

Would you say you were part of Karl’s posse?
We had dinner a couple of times at his house. We’d sit and talk. He was very professional, very straitlaced. He had a hunger for knowledge. He had hundreds of thousands of books in his house, lining his walls. I asked one of his assistants, “Does he read a lot?” His assistant said he reads like crazy, buys three of every book to give to people. 

Did you ever sleep at Karl’s?
Once. But when he said good night to us, that was it. He didn’t stay and hang. Karen Elson was there, too. He was super-professional with me.

We love the picture of you and Karl. 
I didn’t know that he doesn’t love having his picture taken. He said that he couldn’t do it, but I insisted. Later, his assistant said to me, “He likes you! He doesn’t take pictures like that.” 

When was the last time you saw Karl?
Early 2000. He had featured me in a book, Escape From Circumstances. He dedicated it to me and signed it for me. I'd planned to see him again. He had talked about designing my wife’s wedding dress, but once I left the industry, I was done. 

It sounds like you had a beautiful friendship!
We kept in touch. I’d write him back when he wrote me. 

What do you do now?
I work in the firearms industry; I import guns. I’m your typical model-turned-gun-dealer. 

If he reads this, should he call you? 
Absolutely, if he’s looking for a 35-year-old, over-the-hill model. Hopefully, he found love.

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