I fully expected to come out of the documentary on Chanel designer Karl Lagerfeld Lagerfeld Confidential having confirmed what I had long assumed: Lagerfeld is off his fucking rocker. But he's not: He's just a little messy, neurotic and utterly endearing. (The designer's apartment is filled with towering piles of books and says he cannot work with a clean desk because he finds it too intimidating. Also, he still sleeps with the pillow his nanny made him as a child.)
Lagerfeld Confidential is not exceptional filmmaking by any means — it plays like an extended Barbara Walters special — though perhaps the film's director, Rodolphe Marconi, exhausted himself trying to edit the 350 hours of tape he'd culled from his two years with the designer. But the finished product is something anyone with even the slightest interest in fashion should probably see. Don't take my word for it? The real critics weigh in with details after the jump.
New York Times:
The movie offers no résumé or analysis of his work. It is simply an extended interview, without talking-head commentary..."I don't want to be real in other people's minds," [Lagerfeld] declares. "I want to be an apparition" ...He says he was aware of [his homosexuality] 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..
New York Observer:
"I don't have roots," Karl declares. (Or so the subtitles translate it.) "That's all bullshit. I just want to stand on my own two feet."..."I love change; I'm attached to nothing"; "I'm not really interested in the reality of people"; "For people like me, solitude is a victory" — [these statements] seem less the whimsical bons mots of La Mode than grim Nietzschean aphorisms... Mr. Lagerfeld is grim and guarded, hiding behind the quintessential fashion crutch: sunglasses indoors.
[R]emember the words to live by: "Pissing everywhere isn't very Chanel!" Rodolphe Marconi [says] "...If you saw him on a Sunday, completely alone, he'd be entirely dressed. But even though he's very wrapped up in his persona, in the fashion industry, and in commerce, he's not, how do you say, a 'starfucker.'"
We learn what he purchased on a visit to the Dior Homme boutique on 57th Street (a shiny gold jacket), the age at which he was first sexually active (13), and his views on prostitution (pro) and gay marriage (con: too bourgeois). Confidential may not be the place to learn of Lagerfeld's contribution to the art of fashion, but there's abundant evidence presented on his contribution to the art of the epigram:... "People with turbulent lives who spend their time on the phone are sexual freelancers."
New York Magazine:
Though Lagerfeld speaks of his childhood as though it were perfectly normal, psychoanalysts might beg to differ: He calls his mother a "nasty" and "frivolous" woman who "made slaves of her lovers and husbands" and "never thanked anyone," but he also claims to have adored her and thought "other mothers were stupid." We wonder if other mothers would have reacted as Karl's allegedly did when he informed Ma Lagerfeld that he'd been sexually compromised by a pair of adults: "It's your own fault, just look at you!" Blaming the victim is totally Chanel.