You just know he is different. Put Karl Lagerfeld on the central stage of a global web event as #LeWeb11, and he fits in as nicely as a yellow rubber duck in a bowl of strawberries. Lagerfeld is different. Even a seasoned host as Loic Lemeur, organizer of LeWeb does not really know how to handle him.
Lagerfeld does not come with a manual. He is who he is, and even that is not for sure. Evidence shows he is 78, but he claims no-one knows who he is, and where or when he was born. Lagerfeld… is a big cultivated mystery dressed in spotless black. He is the flamboyant head designer and creative director for the prestigious fashion house Chanel. Karl Lagerfeld has his own label fashion house, and owns a publishing house. He creates the collections for the Italian house Fendi, is a cult star photographer and filmmaker. At 78, he seems more energetic than a bunch of teenagers on mushrooms, a third his age.
At 78, Lagerfeld thinks email is for old people, it is just annoying him. “I do not do email, it’s useless” he said: “ if I need to read, to deal with all those questions, I cannot create, not concentrate, not shine. I do work, you know?”. Lagerfeld is also harsh on modern technology: “no machine or program produces creativity. Humans do. Machines are just machines, a help, nothing to bash about. The genius is within us.”
And then… Lagerfeld opens his magic box. He produces 4 iPhones out of his suitcase. Each has a selected circle of people who know that number. Lagerfeld shows his iPods, with his playlists full of favorite music “I paid for this music. I do not download illegally, artists need to live.” And from behind his smoky sunglasses, he throws in a small bombshell: “I also have 20 to 30 iPads. I use them to sketch. Before I worked on sketchbooks, more and more I create on iPad” And he shows the audience a sketch he made of Steve Jobs, and playfully makes a cartoon of himself. Live. Onstage. On an iPad. Not bad for a 78 year old old-timer.
His favorite tool is the trash-bin. “Throw away the 95 percent of your work that s mediocre or bad, concentrate on the good stuff. The winning stuff.” And on social connections: “it is not because you are heavily connected that you are well connected”. There is clearly more about Lagerfeld than meets the eye. “Be yourself, be your own brand, you are your own ambassador. Do not look shabby or poorly, style is priceless. But always, always be true to yourself. Pretending is plain ridiculous.”
Lagerfeld was captivating. An old creative genius, out of his bottle, out of his fashion world, stealing the complete attention of 3300 nerdy techy social media kids. “Fashion is not what you see on the catwalk. It is what people wear”.
Lagerfeld will launch a new label in January called ‘Karl’. Net-a-Porter will launch this line exclusively online from January 25th 2012. Lagerfeld is convinced he brings his collection closer to the public this way. “Shopping is social, online shopping is a social activity, you share your experience through the social web.” He is right, especially with prices hovering around 150 euro. But how do you keep up when you have 8 decades on the counter?
“I have my eyes hidden behind sunglasses” he says: “But they are always open. Always. I observe. I see. I link the dots. That is how I learn. See, even at my age I need to adapt to the world. I’m sorry, but the world does not adapt to me. I have no respect for status quo: change things, push forward, be crazy enough to change the world… Do it!”
“I am a strange child” says Lagerfeld: “I am down to earth, but just not grounded to this world…”
Karl Lagerfeld is more hybrid than most people half his age… I learned a lot more from Lagerfeld, than from some so-called guru’s today… 🙂