"I'm sorry to be late to my own tea party," apologized Karl Lagerfeld on Tuesday afternoon at his home on the Left Bank. "I gave 41 television interviews and I couldn't make a sound."
A mute Lagerfeld is, one imagines, a sad Lagerfeld. Sadder still is an audience denied a taste of the designer's legendary sarcasm. (Maraschino-cherry-studded poundcake goes only so far.) So you can imagine how happy the dozen or so American journalists were when Herr Lagerfeld arrived to hold court in his celadon silk-covered dining room.
"My doctor had to inject me with something . . . saltwater, I think. But now, I'm fine."
The writers dutifully pulled out their notebooks. Karl pulled out the stops. Between quips, he also washed down a plate of sliced cheese with a goblet of iced German beer.
Mr. Lagerfeld, Chanel has always been known for being over the top. What made you decide to make it so tame this time?
"Well, once you've put rhinestones on (crotches), there's really no where else to go."
Mr. Lagerfeld, what do you think about the rumors that John Galliano will take over for Givenchy?
"I like it. I like the kind of fresh-blood infusion for the couture. And he's a lot better than the other names I've heard."
Lagerfeld, who designs the couture line for Chanel, as well as the house's ready-to-wear, a line for Fendi, the Chloe line and his own label, confessed that he'd already begun designing next season's collection.
"That's the fashion biz," he said philosophically. "One day, you're at the shows, the next day, you are back on the job. Gone are the days when a designer would go to the beach for a month for inspiration."
As if on cue, Lagerfeld favorite Claudia Schiffer appeared--without makeup, slightly messy--to confer with the designer. "Will you excuse me a minute, please?" he politely asked the group.
"I would introduce you, but I think you know who this is." Giggles all around. Oh, Karl.
Shop Talk: You would have thought that the tiny Patrick Cox boutique in Paris was selling Prada, so many fashion maniacs were swarming the place. The British shoe designer's shop, down the road from Comme des Garcons on the rue Tiquetonne, is filled with variations on his signature platform loafer. All except the black patent leather version with the clear vinyl soles. Salesclerks said the shoe had sold out in less than four hours last week. "I am so disappointed," said a distraught-looking man clad head to toe in supple brown leather. We could feel his pain. But still, they did have the black rubber jellies of our dreams, so maybe our sympathy was a little on the disingenuous side. While there's no Cox boutique as yet in Los Angeles, the line is sold at Stradivari shoes in Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.
Cinema Verite: Members of the Christian Dior fan club--those pretty French matrons prone to gilding the lily--were so happy to see one another at the Dior show, they scarcely recognized the Famous American Director sitting in their midst. Francis Ford Coppola, natty in a navy pin-striped suit, quietly watched the angst- filled, kissy-faced pre-show and the glitz-drenched proceedings that ensued.
Turns out Coppola is researching a film set against the backdrop of contemporary life in Paris. Integral to that life, of course, is the fashion biz. That could explain why the critically lambasted "Ready to Wear" speaks to French filmgoers. Le Figaro reports that the film, which just opened here, is the No. 1 box office draw. Dog droppings and all.
Hair Apparent: Big hair is back in a big way for fall. Jean Paul Gaultier used electrical tape to stick phony, Mr. T-style Mohawks and hair extensions to the heads of his bald models. And at several shows, we've seen what appeared to be a Hairdini or two. Karl Lagerfeld's models sported the biggest, bestest hair of all. Even sleekheads like Kristen McMenamy and Nadja Auermann emerged from backstage with voluminous cascades of hair. Claudia Schiffer never looked so Barbie-esque. But we were reminded of how painful it is to have a head full of hairpieces--not to mention the Uber bobby pins needed to hold them in place--when we spotted one hip-swinging model tearing out her hair, at least the fake parts, the minute she got off the runway. Ouch!