Friday, April 13, 2018

From NUMERO magazine ... Karl being Karl

photo by Robin Broadbent (click image to enlarge)


“All the other designers hate me...” Karl Lagerfeld gets ready to tell all

 A truly free spirit, Karl has no taboos and doesn’t stonewall. The immense couturier has lost none of the verve that’s made him a cult figure in the fashion world and a veritable pop icon. In a meandering interview, he delivers his reflections on a variety of subjects from First Ladies and Johnny Hallyday’s inheritance issues to the so-called overworking of fashion designers.

Interview by Philip Utz, Portrait Stéphane Feugère

Numéro: So, in good shape?
Karl Lagerfeld: Yes, as long as it’s not in the plural. That said I don’t get fat anymore. I was on a diet for 15 years, but now I can eat all I want without ever gaining a gram. It’s very strange.

Age has no hold over you!
It all depends on the conditions in which you age. If you do it by avoiding excess, and in great luxury, it is effectively quite bearable.

Doesn’t getting old have its fair share of inconveniences?
For the time being, I’m not suffering terribly. I’ve had every test under the sun and they can’t find anything wrong. Call me back in ten years and we’ll talk about it again.

At your age though, isn’t it exhausting juggling three brands – Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld – and not forgetting all your other extra-curricular activities?
No, au contraire, it’s stimulating. All these designers who design exclusively for brands end up finding themselves completely sterilised. By dint of revisiting their own classics, they end up going around in circles, biting their own tails. As far as I’m concerned, I am obliged to constantly reinvent myself by going from one house to the next, which is what also allows me to see what’s happening next door. I’m constantly moving, which stops me from navel-gazing all day and becoming fossilised. Which suits me just fine, because otherwise I get bored. At Chanel I have a contract to do four collections a year – two ready-to-wear and two haute couture – but in fact I do ten, between the ready-to-wear and the couture, the pre-collections, the cruise collection and the Métiers d’Art, not to mention Coco Snow– which isn’t, I assure you, a capsule collection for cokeheads, but a winter sports line – and Coco Beach, for beachwear…

When Raf Simons left Dior, lots was said about how designers are overworked. What do you think about that?
Personally, I’ve never complained. And that is exactly why all the other designers hate me. They are only interested in their damn “inspirations”, they can spend an hour deciding where a button should go, or choosing sketches done by their assistants, which riles me to distraction. I am a machine. The worst thing about all of this, is that they try and blame me for their problems with working overtime. Azzedine [Alaïa], for example, before falling down the stairs, claimed that the supposedly unsustainable rhythms in fashion today were entirely my fault, which is absurd. When you are running a billion-dollar business, you must keep up. And if is doesn’t suit you, then you may as well mess around in your bedroom. I’m sorry but last year I lost my two best enemies Pierre Bergé and the other one. Azzedine loathed me, go figure. And for Pierre’s funeral, my florist asked me, “Do you want us to send a cactus?” 

Men’s fashion means little to me. I buy it, of course, but drawing a men’s collection and put up with all those stupid models, no thanks.”

And you and your funeral, do you see it more in Sidi Bou Said like Azzedine, or at the Madeleine?
How awful! There will be no burial. I’d rather die. Since those miserable Hallyday family stories, a funeral at the Madeleine looks like a joke. I’ve asked to be cremated and for my ashes to dispersed with those of my mother… and those of Choupette [Karl Lagerfeld’s cat], if she dies before me.

I don’t know what you’ve got against Azzedine. Personally, I loved him and you can’t say he lacked talent…
I didn’t say that. I never said anything, I don’t criticise him, even if at the end of his career all he did was make ballet slippers for menopausal fashion victims.

How is it you’re not blasé after sixty years of career?
Thank-you for reminding me of my seniority. Blasé? Oh no, never. In German Blase means “bladder”. On the contrary I think I’m quite lazy, that I could do better. I am never happy with myself. I have to give myself a kick up the behind to go forward, and the day of the show, backstage, I always say to myself, “Well my poor girls, with this we’ll not be doing the next one.” I get no satisfaction from the job I do. And that is what pushes me to continue, this permanent dissatisfaction and discontentment.

If you don’t want to have your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!


Anyway, moving on, today is International Women’s Day…
For me Women’s Day is every day of the year. Men’s fashion does little for me. I buy it of course, and I’m delighted that Hedi [Slimane] is going to Céline but drawing a men’s collection and having to put up with all those stupid models, no thanks. Not to mention the fact with all their accusations of harassment they have become quite toxic. No, no, no, don’t leave me alone with one of those sordid creatures.

At what age did you start to prefer men over women?
Whoever told you I preferred men to women? Where did you get that certainty from?

If you could slip into the skin of a first lady, would you be Brigitte, Carla or Bernadette?
I am friends with them both, so I won’t answer that question.

I cited three ladies…
Bernadette is a woman from another planet, a French woman of another era. Carla, I have worked with a lot, so I consider her a friend. As for Madame Macron, I’d already met her before her husband entered politics, and I like her a lot. Anyway, these three women are so utterly different that I think your question makes no sense, in fact its completely stupid. Personally, I adore Mrs Obama. I fell for her when an American journalist asked her if her leather skirts weren’t a little tight for a first lady, and Michelle Obama answered, “Why, don’t you like my big black ass?”

Come to mention it, we didn’t see you at the grand fashion dinner held by Bribri and Manu at the Élysée during the shows… did you have a headache?
I never go out the night before a show, it’s bad luck.

And yet I clearly remember having seen you at an Apple Watch launch at Colette on the very morning of a show once…
It was the actual morning of the show, which is different: the dice have been thrown and you can do nothing about it.

What do you think about #MeToo?
I’m fed up with it. I don’t even eat pig [in France the movement’s known as #BalanceTonPorc] What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses. That said I cannot stand Mr Weinstein. I had a problem with him at amfAR [the amfAR Gala is organised during the Cannes Film Festival in the fight against AIDS] …

Did he try and drag you into his hotel room too?
No, it wasn’t of a sexual nature, but a professional one. I’ll spare you the details, but he isn’t exactly what you might call a man of his word.

Have movements like #MeToo and #Time’sUp affected the way you approach your work?
Absolutely not. I read somewhere that now you must ask a model if she is comfortable with posing. Its simply too much, from now on, as a designer, you can’t do anything. As for the accusations against the poor Karl Templar [creative director at Interview magazine], I don’t believe a single word of it. A girl complained he tried to pull her pants down and he is instantly excommunicated from a profession that up until then had venerated him. Its unbelievable. If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!

During an interview in 2010, you told me you were thinking about Haider Ackermann as your replacement at Chanel…
Yes, but that was a long time ago.

And today who do you seeing doing that?
I don’t propose anything or anyone, because the house of Chanel doesn’t belong to me. Marc Jacobs, who I adore, also dreamed of replacing me… When I first knew him, he was 17 years old working as an assistant for my friend Perry Ellis. Alas when he was made artistic director there, he got fired because of his grunge collection which didn’t work at all.

Between Virgil Abloh, Jacquemus and Jonathan Anderson, who would you willingly take to a dessert island to end your days with?
“I’d kill myself first.”

Can you rank these three designers in descending order of talent? Simon Porte Jacquemus, Virgil Abloh and Jonathan Anderson?
The designers I prefer, in disorder, Marine Serre – 1m50 but a will of steel – Jacquemus, who makes me laugh… and who is rather pretty too. He is funny, yes. And to conclude J. W. Anderson, even if his approach is occasionally over intellectualised – undoubtedly, I haven’t done the required studies.  
Between Virgil Abloh, Jacquemus and Jonathan Anderson, who would you willingly take to a dessert island to end your days with?
“I’d kill myself first.”

How did you get the idea of growing a goatee?
I had one in the famous portrait of me taken by Helmut Newton 40 years ago, and I wanted to rediscover the feeling of having one again, to see if after all these years, it was still just as bothersome. What is funny is that with all these whiskers I look a lot like Choupette… we’re really like an old couple. In fact, she maintains it for me, we sleep on the same pillow and she spends her life licking it.
I don’t think of you as very hairy… How long did it take to grow?
I’ve been growing it since Christmas. But you are right, the strange thing is, so to speak, I don’t a hair on my body.  
Just the beard.
Well and the hair on my head too.
You have no underarm hair?
No, not much, not a bush.
You’re completely hair free?
Well let’s just say I have it where it should be. But I don’t have a hairy chest for example, or a hairy back – thank God! – or hairy thighs…
Talking about hair, I read somewhere that you’ve named Choupette as the heir to your vast fortune…
Among others, yes. Don’t worry, there is enough for everyone.
And how much is this vast fortune of yours?
I’m certainly not Bernard Arnault, I’ll tell you right away. It’s not like I have 72 billion euros in my current account.
But I thought it was forbidden in France to leave anything in your will to your hamster or guinea pig?
Well it’s lucky I’m not French then.
You recently launched a capsule collection for your own brand with Sébastien Jondeau, your personal assistant for the last 20 years… What are his main qualities, apart from being built like a Greek god and gap-toothed like Vanessa Paradis?
Sébastien corresponds with a certain kind of man aged 35 – 40 who cannot find anything to wear. He embodies a male canon that is the complete opposite of those skinny things with wonky teeth we generally see on runways… They certainly don’t run the risk of getting harassed. To be honest what they really need is a good dentist.
When one’s a genius like you, what do you arm yourself with on a daily basis, an infinite patience and great indulgence for dealing with others, often less spirited?
A genius? It’s you who said it. When I was young, my mother always said to me that I was stupid, she called me “Mule”. I’ve probably just been overcompensating ever since. And I’m not surrounded by idiots, I have fantastic teams. So, when it comes to the retarded and other ignoramuses, I don’t see them, I don’t know them…
Apart from me…
You give yourself too much importance.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Nicolas Caito & Hervé Pierre of Atelier Caito for Hervé Pierre

Having spent the earliest days of my fashion career on 7th avenue, I have always been fascinated and intrigued by what happened “behind” the environment of the showroom or as we used to say … “in the back.” By that I mean the pattern makers, the cutters and the entire sample making process from sketch to reality...the transformative process of creating a garment.  This ongoing fascination led me to Nicolas Caito several years ago when he had his pattern making/sample making workspace on Chambers Street and my fascination was reignited with the magic and skillsets that his work requires and produces.
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Needless to say that when the announcement was made that he joined forces with Hervé Pierre, I was quick to send congratulations as well as offer this interview. Being able to put friendship ahead of my personal feelings did not take long to overlook an affiliation that, to say the least repelled me, but friends are harder to come by and loyalty has its place and value especially in business. So with all that said, here we have Nicolas speaking for he and his partner about their new and exciting venture … Atelier Caito for Hervé Pierre  
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I am of the opinion that it may just be time that women will again begin to wear clothes ...  not just gym clothes, jeans and sweats, but clothes… as in dinner dresses, cocktail dresses, luncheon dresses and formals that exude an elegance that has been lost along with the passage of time in some demented way of staying "relevant." These  two men combine old world skills with  modern design to create for a 21st century woman who wishes to stand out from the flock by looking slick, refined, chic, if that exists anymore, and above all wearing clothes utilizing the expertise and craft used by the greats of fashion.
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Jeffrey Felner: Can you give us a little history as to how you both met and how this venture came to be?

Nicolas Caito: We met here in New York City when Lars Nilson and Hervé Pierre were design directors at Bill Blass. They were looking for someone to manage the eveningwear sample room, that's when Francois Bouchet (the Premier d'Atelier at the time at Oscar De La Renta but also a dear friend of ours and mainly my mentor who trained me during 8 years at Lanvin ) put us in contact .

After 2 years at Bill Blass, Hervé went to Carolina Herrera to become the creative director of the brand, a position that he held for 15 years;  I went back to Paris to become the manager of the sample room at Rochas for 2 years while Olivier Theskeyns was the creative director. Two years later, I was back to New York City and the creation/birth of Atelier Nicolas Caito .

It is only recently that Hervé and I started working again together on special projects and private clients, until one morning in August, I woke up with this “calling” that we had to create a line together! We have the same education, the same kind of background and Hervé has such a respect, passion and love for craftsmanship that he is the only person in New York I could consider starting a new venture with!
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JF: Can you explain this collection in terms of target audience, the message of the collection and how clients can see it?

NC: I would say that this collection is really meant for an extremely elegant and very feminine woman, but also a woman that has an education on fit, craftsmanship and luxury! “The elegance of a woman that would rather be remembered than seen” Giorgio Armani
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JF: Why did you select NOW as the right time to inaugurate this collection? 

NC: We selected now as a time to launch because we think, believe and hope that all our planets are aligned ,but also because we can't conceive of  people waiting for it any longer for this union or marriage of talents.
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JF: Can you speak to how you see fashion at the moment and where you wish to fit in and why?

NC: I am only going to be speaking about fashion in New York City as this is the one arena that I know the most.  I think that fashion is moving away from its purpose which is to create nice garments in a creative way. The lack of education, of fashion history/knowledge, fabric and garment construction is impoverishing the fashion industry! The more followers you have today on Instagram, the more talented it makes you …. In theory! The image/visual has taken over the garment itself, the clothes themselves have become less important than the label/brand!

We wish to bring back the seriousness of making dresses, not in an austere way, but more about the commitment to design and craft! We also believe that the collaboration of creative talent and craftsmanship will translate our designs to real life. The actual creation of making a garment has lost its soul! Nowadays you email a sketch to China or Italy and you wait to get a sample back; the interaction between the designer and the pattern-maker, which a key interaction for us, is lost again when there is a void between sketch to sample! Both the designer and the pattern-maker need to challenge each other, they need to question themselves on what they do and why and how … this is how our craft stays alive and evolves!
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JF: Do you have any style mentors or icons that you have in mind when you design? And why have you chosen them?

NC: What is fascinating when I am looking back at fashion history is that every period in time always has a fashion icon , a woman or a man who shaped and influenced fashion in that very precise era … paintings , or movies can also play a big part in the search and creative process … so it all depends on my mood and my current state of mind; I can easily look at La Comtesse Greyffuhle, Carolina Herrera, a Visconti movie !!! or a Matisse painting for a color combination!
******* for more, visit their website ********

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

meet Reed Evins ... YES of the shoe Evins'

In today’s world of fashion there are so few who can rightfully be deemed or described as multi-talented. Reed Evins, although no longer utilizing fashion as his primary means of expression,  remains one of those who I can honestly say is/was a designer who designed meaning he did it all. Reed was not one of those “pointers”, as I call them, who expected everyone else to do his bidding, he did it himself since in fact he was more than well equipped to do so.
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Today he has turned his attention to a sort of literally more artistic method of using one of his many abilities that he retains in his skillset. I called it “art for the masses:” which means affordable art that appeals to a more general public and more recently he has taken up custom pet portraits by means of collage. As most anyone will tell you, pet owners are prone to love their animals as if they are indeed their blood offspring, Reed now gives them the opportunity to capture these pampered members of the family in a sort of moment frozen in time; actually rather ingenious when you think of it.
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At any rate, I have known Reed or known of him for decades as we frequented many of the same notorious dance clubs and events that we boomers of New York City did starting in the 70s.  I am always mindful and thankful to the internet for the opportunity to be reunited with so many who lived through some of the best times in NYC as well as survived some of the worst times that ensued.

So now you get Reed Evins in his own words…..
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Jeffrey Felner: Can you please give us a brief rundown and how you arrived at this point in your career?

 Reed Evins: I graduated from Rhode Island School Of Design. Having always painted and drawn, I opted for the most obvious career ambition which was to follow my destiny in becoming a shoe designer. As a shoe designer, I always sketched my own designs and followed in the footsteps of my illustrious bloodlines by training at Rayne in London and eventually starting my own shoe  company, “Two City Kids” with my sister Melissa as my partner.
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 Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, Reed. I first met Reed on East 58th St ...we were new neighbors.....he was wearing FIVE cashmere berets...all different colors...all staggered so that he looked like rainbow caterpillar....brilliant boy…. Michael Vollbracht:  designer, artist, friend
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JF: Let’s speak of present tense... how did you get involved in this sort of “art for the masses” arena and why?

RE: I have always been intrigued by Warhol’s concept of “Art for the Masses.” Warhol’s first job in Manhattan was illustrating David Evins shoes and as if by some odd quirk of fate, twenty years later Andy would choose me to be his first INTERMAN  for INTERVIEW magazine which was the “it” publication of the era.
Affordable art for everyone was always a dream of mine and it has taken a somewhat circuitous path for me to arrive at this “destination.”
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JF: If you could invite any 5 people to dinner who would they be and why?

RE: Dinner for 5 would include the greatest Collection of shoemakers in history:
My uncle, the world famous and legendary David Evins. Sir Edward Rayne shoe maker by appointment to the Queen and the Queen Mother, Royal Shoemaker. Roger Vivier while he was designing in the  Dior years,  Charles Jourdan who was one of the great French shoe designers who catapulted to fame in the 70s and lastly Andre Perugia, the great Italian shoemaker who was probably the greatest shoemaker of them all.

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We still laugh about this today: Dawn Mello had just offered Reed a hat boutique at Bergdorfs. Michael Vollbracht called and asked if he could stop by. “I need a hat!” and arrived within 5 minutes accompanied by a very petite woman. Michael starts with “I made this coat for Elizabeth to wear to the inauguration, and your violet mink hat would be perfect; it matches her eyes "... the petite lady sitting on the edge of Reed’s bed was Elizabeth Taylor! Mom called in the midst of all this and when Reed told her who was here she simply said “oh your such a comedian call me later.” In the end Reed made a magnificent violet "Russian style" mink hat with tassels. The hat and its wearer were widely photographed resulting in Bergdorf’s getting over 200 requests for the hat. Reed had finally "arrived” as the “it” milliner. Melissa Evins: sister, co-designer, confidante
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JF: Did you or do have any style icons or mentors from the past or present that influence your mindset and why?

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 RE: Annette Evins (mom) , when your husband makes all the shoes for Galanos, Norell, Blass, Beene and Hermès. She was surrounded by only “the best” and they all wanted to know her opinion on everything.
Marilyn Evins (aunt)  who was on the Best -Dressed list for 45 years, Hall of Fame. As a PR giant, she was responsible for bringing Valentino and Lacroix to the US. She was also responsible for putting every “First Lady” from Eisenhower to Clinton in Evins shoes 

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JF: Lastly since you are from one of the great bloodlines of the shoe business, do you miss it? Would you ever return to it? And what was the one big lesson you learned from your uncle (David Evins) who was indeed shoe royalty?

 The Evins mantra: “it’s not what you put on a shoe that makes it chic, it’s what you leave off.”
I have never stopped designing shoes, just stopped manufacturing my own shoes. Now I design for others, without the responsibility and headaches of making and shipping orders.