Vice: So, you’re very busy as usual
Karl Lagerfeld: I’m always busy, but this is a really busy time. I like really busy times.
I do too. I’ve been watching various documentaries about you. I’ve been kind of surprised, as I’ve learned more about you, by how your philosophy has become very distilled. Down-to-earth.
Yes, very down-to-earth.Sophisticated down-to-earth.
That’s almost like a paradox, but I understand. I love paradoxes.
Me too. I think it’s all about paradoxes. People don’t get it; they think you’re being contradictory, but two things can exist simultaneously that are opposed. There’s no mystery in that. Truth is only a question of point of view.
I like that you make it clear that you don’t want to be photographed or filmed without your sunglasses on. I don’t either. Who would?They’re my burka.
Exactly. A burka for the eyes.A burka for a man. I’m a little shortsighted, and people, when they’re shortsighted, they remove their glasses and then they look like cute little dogs who want to be adopted.
I’m actually nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other.You can’t operate at all with what you have?
No. They say I’ll never need glasses because I only use one eye for distances and one eye for close up.That’s perfect, no? I want to stay shortsighted or else I will need glasses for reading. But I don’t want them because I sketch, I do everything without glasses, except for speaking to strangers. Especially if they wear glasses, too.
I hate it when photographers are like, “Can we have one with your glasses off?” Why? You can see me just fine.I had an interview once with some German journalist—some horrible, ugly woman. It was in the early days after the communists—maybe a week after—and she wore a yellow sweater that was kind of see-through. She had huge tits and a huge black bra, and she said to me, “It’s impolite; remove your glasses.” I said, “Do I ask you to remove your bra?”
You have to be careful what you ask for. Something that you do, which I also try to do in my art, is to treat all aspects of creativity equally. Fashion, photography, books, whatever—it all comes from the same place.Yes, exactly. Everything comes from the same head. The three things I like best in life are fashion, photography, and books. There are a lot of other things I may like but that I’m not gifted for. I’m not gifted for music. I’m not gifted for singing. I don’t like to act because my life is a pantomime anyway.
Well, the gifts that you do possess have certainly served you well.I’m perfectly happy, and what makes things even better is that I can do things the way that I want to. I have no problems in terms of down-to-earth issues; I can do everything I’m doing in the best conditions. My fashion business, Chanel, is the biggest luxury ready-to-wear brand in the world. Fendi is a part of LVMH, which is very big, too.
You’ve been famous for quite some time, but the whole landscape of celebrity has changed so dramatically in recent years. That’s part of our life, our culture.
Do you think it’s become kind of toxic?Yes, but you cannot fight against it. There’s a price you have to pay for fame, and people who don’t want to pay that price can get in trouble. I accepted the idea of celebrity because of a French expression: “You cannot have the butter and the money for the butter.”
I like that. You have to choose one or the other.And now I cannot cross the street. I cannot go anywhere.
But you don’t mind being alone and isolated?I have bodyguards. I have big cars.
Do you travel with bodyguards?Oh yes. But I don’t travel commercially. Whenever I go around the world I go on private jets.
What if you went to a nightclub or something?I don’t. I never go anywhere, not even from here to the Quai Voltaire, where I live. Never ever. People wait in front of my house.
How long has it been that way for you, with fans outside your home?For the past ten years. Before that, it was OK. And when I was younger, people didn’t really know me. I had the time to be young and not to be troubled by this kind of thing.