Lagerfeld Confidential

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Biography Documentary hosted by cast themselves, published by Realitism Films in 2007 - French narration

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Image: Lagerfeld-Confidential-Cover.jpg

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Those seeking career advice about how to become an emperor of fashion will find little if any useful information in “Lagerfeld Confidential,” an intimate portrait of the designer who has ruled the House of Chanel for more than two decades. At least Mr. Lagerfeld, an imperial figure if there ever was one, demonstrates how to act the part.

In every frame this designer, who is shown in his Paris studio and presiding at photo shoots (one with Nicole Kidman) and fashion shows, exudes a papal grandeur. Mr. Lagerfeld says he never formally studied fashion and has no patience for the craft of dressmaking. The movie offers no résumé or analysis of his work. It is simply an extended interview, without talking-head commentary.

Mr. Lagerfeld claims to be “a complete improvisation.” “I don’t want to be real in other people’s minds,” he declares. “I want to be an apparition.” Much of the film, written, directed and photographed by Rodolphe Marconi, might be described as a friendly sparring match between the filmmaker and his subject, with Mr. Marconi repeatedly pressuring Mr. Lagerfeld to open up about his private life. The tone of the questions implies that Mr. Marconi already knows the answers and wants Mr. Lagerfeld to spill the same beans on camera that he has off, but the designer continually eludes his interrogator. To a point, Mr. Lagerfeld is candid about his homosexuality. He says he was aware of it by the age of 13, when he told his parents, for whom it was not a problem. When an older man and woman made passes at him, he recalls, his mother, instead of flying into a rage about child molestation, scolded her son and said such incidents wouldn’t happen if he didn’t behave so provocatively.

Beyond declaring that he was sexually very active as a youth, however, Mr. Lagerfeld avoids mentioning the names of lovers or recalling major relationships. The most he will say is that there have been “a few tragedies I couldn’t possibly talk about.” A cinematic scrapbook of photos reveals him to have been an exceptionally handsome young man, but the male companions pictured are unidentified. His adoring mother seems to have been the major formative influence. He grew up in northern Germany, near the Danish border, and moved to Paris as a teenager. As a child, he admits, he was “unbearable and spoiled” and compares himself to Shirley Temple. Even now, he cannot go to sleep without a pillow clutched to his stomach.

His mother, he says, was “the polar opposite of a typical German mother.” She “exuded frivolity” and “made slaves of everyone.” Mr. Lagerfeld displays a similar mixture of eccentricity and severity. With his white ponytail, high white collars, sunglasses, fingerless gloves (his hands are festooned with rings) and preference for black, he resembles a man of the cloth, “a defrocked one,” he says matter-of-factly.

And like a priest, he is given to making lofty pronouncements with an aphoristic ring. If the documentary had a subtitle, it might be “The Wit and Wisdom of Karl Lagerfeld.” Or more accurately, “The Wisdom and Obfuscation.” Here are some sample quotations: “I hate people who can’t be alone”; “The best things I’ve ever done have come from dreams”; “Fashion is ephemeral, dangerous and unfair”; “There is a German saying: ‘You can’t borrow on your past.’”; “I love change; I’m attached to nothing”; “When I took on Chanel, it was a sleeping beauty — not even a beautiful one; she snored”; “Success nullifies; you have to do it again, and better.” He sneers at “bourgeois marriages,” is pro-prostitution and, as befits a man who aspires to be an apparition, virulently anti-psychoanalysis.

His most unsettling remarks concern friendship. Hanging over every close relationship, he asserts, is a sword of Damocles. And he implies that many have been permanently exiled from his court. “Forgiveness isn’t something I’m preoccupied with,” he says. “Turning the other cheek is not my trip. The curtain falls: an iron curtain.”

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Duration: 1h 25mn
  • File size: 689
  • Container: MKV
  • Width: 640 pixels
  • Height: 352 pixels
  • Display aspect ratio: 16:9
  • Overall bit rate: 1122 kbps
  • Frame rate: 23.976 fps
  • Audio Codec: MP3
  • Channel(s): 2 channels
  • Sampling rate: 48.0 KHz
  • Credit goes to: anonymous

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