I watched “The Mysterious Mr. Lagerfeld”, a documentary about fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019 at age 85. Karl appears to have been a really nice man who was generous to a fault. There wasn’t one person who came forward to say anything bad about him. He was for decades a legendary figure in the fashion world, and worked for a number of brands before being hired by Chanel in 1983. After Coco Chanel’s death ten years prior, the label had been on life support and Lagerfeld turned it into a hugely successful operation. Karl’s legend grew from then, to the point where he figured out he should start branding himself. Everyone who follows fashion to even the slightest degree would recognize his white ponytail, high white collar, dark glasses and leather gloves look. It’s iconic.
I liked the show because it reminded me that there is a civilized world outside of identity politics, network TV, woke bullshit, pointless corporate sporting coverage and the rest of the annoying garbage and pettiness that passes for society. In this world people dress well, they have manners, they sound intelligent, live in nice apartments and houses, and they don’t seem in any way mentally disturbed about the latest “issue” or other. It could have all been for the cameras, but sometimes you can see beyond that. Nobody seemed like a phony, at least to me.
Karl was a businessman of course, but his passion was working on new things. He was always working, and if he wasn’t, he was reading. He spent thousands on books. The producers visited the book store where he regularly bought his books, and one randomly selected purchase bill was $7,000. This was a common occurrence they said. He owned thousands and thousands of books.
I’m not going to review this whole show, you should watch it yourself. To me at least, it proves you can be rich, successful and still be a nice person. It was an unexpectedly wholesome tale in an industry which at times, seems to be at the forefront of everything that is perverted and depraved. I should know, I worked in the rag trade when I was younger, and I liked the people and the atmosphere. A lot of today’s fashion shows look something out of Dante’s Inferno.
Watching all this, sort of reminded me of how nice the people in the rag trade can be. It is rumored that Karl left most of his fortune to his cat Choupette, who he was besotted with. Choupette, is an 11 year old Birman cat who has an agent and her own website. She also has a Twitter feed with 45 thousand followers, and 149 thousand on Instagram. The cat promotes products and if she doesn’t like them, she just won’t do it her handlers say.
At the end, nothing is really resolved. The whole 200 million Euros fortune thing is a mystery, that’s a little bit what the documentary is about. One of my favorite characters was his lawyer, Céline Degoulet. Every time they asked her about something she almost burst into laughter. It was almost like Karl was whispering jokes into her ear. His accountant, Lucien Frydlender, has disappeared and is out of contact with everyone, she said. He’s the only one who holds the keys to the distribution of the inheritance. Karl hated talking about the past, and the so-called ‘good old times’. In the documentary he says this. He was all about the new.
From wikipedia “The final Chanel collection completed before his death had an Alpine theme of après-ski clothing. As Lagerfeld requested not to have any type of funeral, the show only included a moment of silence in his honor and chairs emblazoned with his image next to Coco Chanel with the saying “the beat goes on”