He may have arrived late; too late to appreciate the Chanel shoes that Victoria Beckham had bought and worn in his honour. But for 30 minutes at the end of a long day, Karl Lagerfeld held the audience at the International Herald Tribune conference in the palm of his hand with unequivocal opinion and acid wit.
Here is our pick of the pearls of wisdom from the quickfire Kaiser. Fashion students take note: every one is a landmark on the road map for making it in the modern age.
'The modern silhouette is much more inclusive and diverse. My new campaign for Chanel has Ines (de La Fressange), Stella (Tennant) and Freja (Beha): women from the 80’s, 90’s and now. The stick thin silhouette is over'
'Buying couture is no worse than collecting expensive cars. People are rich enough to buy them. Others make a living from that. I have no fake guilt about couture'.
ON THE CORPORATE WORLD
'In business, there are too many salary justifiers: people who exist only to call meetings and slow things down'.
'I am always in a bad mood but only with myself, not with others so that’s ok. I am mean to myself. I always think I can do better. I like a challenge. When someone says "it’s impossible", I like it'.
ON THE BUSINESS OF FASHION
'The inexpensive and the very expensive has more future in this economy than anything in between'.
ON HIS JOB DESCRIPTION
'I like what I do. I do not take myself seriously. I am completely free. I have no problem with myself. I have no idea what it means to take yourself seriously. I am a lazy person who loves to work. This is not art. I am a dress designer'.
ON COCO CHANEL
'Coco Chanel did a lot for fashion but not as much as she said she did. She was a woman of her times and in the 30’s and 40’s there were only two fashion options: Chanel or Balenciaga. But she made two crucial mistakes at the end of her career. In the 1960’s she tried to give lessons in elegance. She said she had asked a lot of men and not a single one said they liked the mini skirt (in my opinion no man dared tell this old lady what he really thought). And she said jeans were horrible. So she lost her power'.
ON STEPPING INTO THE SHOES OF AN ICON
'If you want to really re-invent something you need to lose respect for it. You can only re-build if you destroy. Respect belongs in the funeral parlour'.
ON THE PAST
'I don’t want to hear about the past. I don’t do retrospectives. People can do them for me if they want. I am only interested in now'.
ON THE DIGITAL AGE
'The digital world is the essence of now. If you fight against it you are like Chanel when she rejected jeans and the mini skirt. Mind you, I don’t use those machines because my brain is supposed to do the same job.'
- Paula Reed