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His is only a handful of faces immediately recognisable to even the most clueless of clothes hounds, and to the fashion forward, he is nothing short of a demigod. Little wonder, then, that Karl Lagerfeld has a reputation for behaving like one.
For the better part of four decades, his features have graced as many magazine covers as that of the models he dresses – with an accompanying haughtiness that makes Naomi Campbell seem like Mother Teresa.
He’s never been one to mince his words and even when his opinion is quite clearly deserving of some degree of remorse, contrition is a concept that has simply never existed in the world of The Fan-Waving one.
Which is what makes the outrage surrounding his latest lack of savoir faire all the more perplexing. A group called Belle, Ronde, Sexy et je M’assume (roughly translated as Beautiful, Round, Sexy and Fine With It) has filed a defamation suit against Chanel’s Creative Director for what they deem his “discriminatory attitude towards those of a heavier build”.
The legal complaint comes after Lagerfeld appeared on a TV show in his adoptive France earlier this month, callously accusing “fat people” of draining said country’s tax revenue, due to their “fat-related ailments”.
And if that weren’t sufficiently offensive, he then repeated his long-held mantra that “nobody wants to see curvy women on the runway”.
The first point is one I’ll leave to the politicians to debate. However, while we may be loath to admit it, the second isn’t entirely fallacious.
Forget the fact that Lagerfeld was himself once a walking display of too-many-wobbly-bits, before he famously shed 41kgs and opted for the still popular Le Lollipop skeletal look instead.
The cold, hard truth of the matter is that people don’t want to see fuller figured models on the runway. They may bemoan the emaciated, long-legged creatures that populate the catwalk, but in the secret recesses of their mind, they long to look just as lissom.
While undeniably odious, were the likes of Melissa McCarthy to march down the ramp wearing those slinky designer outfits, it’s likely you’d feel repulsed by the rolls of excess skin, cellulite and stretch marks flapping about before you.
Conversely, watching Candice Swanepoel sashay along the runway in all her pert-butt-giraffe-like-legs-washboard-tummy winged glory is far more likely to entice you to buy the outlandishly priced clothing she’s parading.
Even if only because of some deluded notion that by simply wearing the same garments, you will automatically be transformed into a similarly sexy, confident, perfectly proportioned being.
It’s what the entire multi-billion dollar fashion industry is built on.
And his long-spanning successful career proves that Karl Lagerfeld is a pro at playing the game. But ultimately, he didn’t make the rules. We, as the all-too-eager consumers, did…
LARA DE MATOS