Karl Lagerfeld may be best known as Chanel’s head designer, but he’s also a renowned photographer, shooting and styling the Chanel ad campaigns as well as a variety of other projects - from the super glossy cover of Vogue Japan to an ever-so-slightly improbable Pirelli calendar.
Well, to celebrate this other string to Lagerfeld’s bow, the Salon de la Photo at Paris Expo has offered plebs like you and I the opportunity to see some of Karl’s photographs in real life, along with a selection of his favourite images by Richard Avedon, David Bailey, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Robert Mapplethorpe, Helmut Newton and Arthur Penn. (Who are all photographers. FYI).
Karl says, surprisingly that ‘I never thought I could be a photographer until I was literally pushed into it one day, when I urgently needed some photos for a press kit. The push came from my friend and co-worker Eric Pfrunder, in the late 1980s.’
Karl, of course, shoots almost entirely in black and white, a decision he explains in characteristically succinct fashion: ‘Black and white has become emblematic of my style; it expresses my vision of modernity. In fashion as in photography, only perfection will do. Working in black and white is a demanding but fascinating choice.’
And on the difference between the photographer and designer’s materials of choice, Karl says ‘Paper is my favourite material in the whole world. It is the starting point for a drawing and the finishing point of a photograph. I could never do without paper. For my photos, for example, everything begins with a drawing. I compose a photo in the same way I do a drawing. But the play of light gives it a new dimension.’
Sadly, the exhibition closes today, so unless you’re feeling spontaneous enough to pop to Paris for lunch, then you, like Grazia Daily, will have to wait until the next time Karl opens his photographic archive to see his back catalogue. Boo. But you can catch the rest of his interview here.
- Alex Butt