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New Baby in Lagerfeld ‘Fragrance Family’

There are those who think Karl Lagerfeld has to be a little schizophrenic. After all, he designs four ready-to-wear collections each season--one for Chanel in Paris, one for the Fendi sisters in Rome, his own Karl Lagerfeld label and a KL Sportswear collection for the United States.

He shuttles between apartments in Paris, Rome and Monte Carlo and a country estate in Brittany. He delights in decorating each--his tastes range from 18th-Century style to the modernity of the Memphis group--and then beginning all over again when he gets bored.

“Schizo? Not at all. I love what I do,” says the man who refers to himself as a fashion machine. “My life is stimulating. One idea pushes another. I like fashion; it’s what I want to do, and it’s a great time for fashion now. Why shouldn’t I do it all? Why shouldn’t I have fun?”

Designer in Los Angeles

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Lagerfeld is in Los Angeles to push one of his latest ideas, a new men’s fragrance called KL Homme, with an appearance at Robinson’s in Beverly Hills Saturday. He calls the new scent part of his “family” of fragrances, which include Chloe and KL for women and another men’s fragrance called Lagerfeld--all from Parfums Lagerfeld, a division of Elizabeth Arden.

Lagerfeld speaks in rapid-fire English (one of four languages he handles fluently), explaining that there’s no conflict between his two men’s fragrances, that it’s “boring” for men to wear just one scent.

The designer has seemingly designed his life to avoid boredom.

He avoids “boring people, slow people, people who lack enthusiasm, who are blase, who think they’ve done it all. That attitude is very aging. There are always things to do, see and wait for. I have no patience with people who say it was better before. What I like about fashion is that it changes--for better or for worse. I don’t care which one as long as it changes.”

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It is this limitless curiosity, Lagerfeld says, that has him buying stacks of books, magazines and music tapes during his travels.

“I’m a cultural voyeur,” he explains, peering through the sun shades that, besides his pigtail, are his own signature look.

“In Monte Carlo, I have a bed in the bedroom and a bed on the terrace. In the morning, it’s marvelous to see the sun rise over the sea. At night, I sometimes fall asleep with the fireworks in the sky coming from the Sporting Club.”

Lagerfeld also spends part of his work day in his design studio, where inspiration comes from the many muses with which he says he surrounds himself.

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“It’s very important that I have somebody around me that I can identify with,” he explains, referring to Ines de la Fressange, the model who represents the Chanel image in ads, and Victoire de Castellane, who is the niece of one of his longtime business associates.

“I could not do Chanel without Ines,” he says. “Who would inspire me? The memory of that old Chanel? And Victoire has a great way with jewelry. And the way she moves--that’s the whole story.”

Another Inspiration

Besides Madonna, Sade and Tina Turner (models dressed to look like these three performers kicked off his fall fashion show in Paris), another Lagerfeld inspiration is Princess Caroline of Monaco.

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“She’s so clever, brilliant and witty,” he says, showing Polaroids of the princess, which he’s pasted in the date book he carries everywhere and fills with memorabilia. “She is quick-minded and can read a page or see a movie and recall everything in great detail.”

Lagerfeld has become so enamored with things Monegasque that--besides his Monte Carlo apartment--he recently acquired a villa, which he’s currently refurbishing.

Dream Comes True

“I had seen this villa when I was young and visiting Monaco. I dreamed of living there. It’s been empty for 60 years. I can have it for 40 years, and then it belongs to Monaco again.”

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Asked if there is a relationship between his interior design and his fashion design, Lagerfeld says: “Everything’s linked. The food, the place, the time, the air. I don’t believe anything is what you call ‘ivory tower.’ I think it’s so demode when a designer worries over taffeta. Fashion is life itself. It’s a reflection of life. That’s why clothes are important. They reflect a period and your way of reflecting that period. But it’s not a drama. It’s just the way it is.”


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