sb217.com：Remembering Karl Lagerfeld One Year On
Amanda Harlech, Silvia Venturini Fendi, Claudia Schiffer, Carla Sozzani, Hubert Barrère and Bruno Pavlovsky share their memories of the inimitable fashion force, Karl Lagerfeld – as told to Vogue’s Suzy Menkes.
It is now a year since Karl Lagerfeld passed away, leaving behind a legacy for his friends and colleagues at Chanel, Fendi and his own KL brand to remember him by.
When we spoke extensively in Paris, the year before he died, I did not know these would be our last meetings. “I have the fashion industry, I have photography books and publishing – that’s enough! I like to watch the world, but I don’t want to be watched,” he explained to me.
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? Photography Bertrand Rindoff Petroff / Getty Images
The artistic and creative director of Maison Lesage, where he is in charge of embroideries for the atelier – part of Chanel’s Paraffection group of heritage craft makers – Barrère chose to remember the Lagerfeld he knew for 21 years as if writing “a Poem to Karl”.
“I think I’ve forbidden myself any pathos, any weakness, anything Karl would have hated. Because I respect him, his way of acting and thinking, I have imposed on myself a tacit ban on all sentimentality and complaint.
“For the 21 years I worked for Chanel, it was for him… For 21 years, he was Chanel. For 21 years, he was my backbone. For 21 years, I wanted to be worthy and please him; everything remains engraved in my memory. His encyclopedic knowledge in which I loved to get lost; his capacity to work tirelessly; his pugnacity; his natural ability to always be one, two, three steps ahead of everything. His almost psychic ability to understand the future and adapt it to the present. His devastating sense of humour that I drank down like water; his casual attitude that hid a sharp and relentless analysis. His kindness towards those around him; his great elegance; his ability to laugh at himself… Nothing about him was average, let alone mediocre!
“Serving him made me grow up; I would not have become who I am without him. From February 19 to July for the Pap, Cruise and Haute Couture collections: being immersed in my work, working assiduously, being one with Virginie, being like fingers of the same hand, making, imagining, creating… These were my sole preoccupations. Then, summer and vacation time came, time to rest, to wander, to let one’s guard down… But also realising the pull and the void he left in my life.
“I got terribly depressed when I went back to work in September, a profound sadness washed over me, nothing interested me, no more love, no more joy… Luckily the collection of crafts was (with and thanks to Virginie), a moment of fullness and energy renewed. The desire for challenge, to surpass oneself, came back once more. Anyway, I’m back in the saddle.
“With Virginie a new chapter of the Chanel story is being written, just as exciting as the one with Karl, but different, and at the same time still deeply entrenched in the Chanel roots. We knew each other for a very long time, the bond with Virginie is an essential motivational driver for me. An anecdote: I remembered that, when Karl was still with us, I used to ask Virginie: ‘Do you think Karl will like it? Do you think this is what he wants?’ Now, not a day goes by without Karl being on my mind. So surprisingly, or naturally (I’m not certain), a reversal has taken place. In my mind, I often ask Karl: ‘Do you think Virginie will like it? Do you think she feels it’s aligned with her vision of what Chanel is today?’ There are so many questions to which I don’t get any answers, but the very act of asking them probably makes me contemplate the outline of an answer.
“As Lampedusa wrote in his novel, The Leopard: ‘For things to remain the same, everything must change.’”
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