Karl Lagerfeld. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez, File)

Before he went on an extreme diet, Karl Lagerfeld was almost as revered for his Hitchcockian figure as he was for his creations for Fendi and Chanel. 

With his distinct dark glasses, fan, and grey hair pulled into a sleek ponytail, the 1.8 m tall designer tipped the scales at a hundred and something kilograms - which didn’t bother him too much until he saw the menswear collection designed by Hedi Slimane (who until a few years ago was Dior Homme’s designer).

For the last 15 years, until his death, Lagerfeld managed to maintain his figure without yoyo-ing like so many high profile stars constantly under the scrutiny of the public eye, especially in the social media era. 

“It was for totally superficial reasons that I got started on this diet,” Lagerfeld says in his book, co-authored by French diet doctor Jean-Claude Houdret. “I think that, for women as well as for men, fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight.”

Lagerfeld embarked on Houdret's Spoonlight diet for 13 months, during which he lost 45 kg, and reduced his jean size to 26.

Sound too good to be true? It is. 

The designer himself described the diet as “some sort of punishment,” where he had to give up sugar, cream, and rice for life, eat only at certain times of day, and not drink, apart from litres and litres of water, diet soda (so much so that he partnered with Coca Cola), tea, and coffee. 

Food was such a luxury on this diet that Lagerfeld was rumoured to go to sleep dreaming of the yoghurt-and-toast breakfast he’ll have the next day.

After five months, however, he had lost so much weight his skin started sagging, so he had to apply skin-firming creams day and night to keep everything from “falling apart.” (To this day, mean fashion-industry types claim that Lagerfeld is hiding a considerable turkey wattle underneath all those high collars.)

The Karl Lagerfeld Diet includes 120 gourmet recipes and sample menus, special chapters on skincare, stress management, giving up smoking, and exercise. 

There are also useful tips for developing the willpower to commit to this diet, which is so rigorous it doesn’t seem feasible unless you cook all your meals or have a personal chef at your disposal.

The basic principles of the Karl Lagerfeld Diet involve limited calorie and fat intake, the avoidance of refined and fried foods, and increasing the intake of lean proteins and vegetables. 

Protein is included in every meal to reduce the risk of unhealthy loss of muscle mass that is common while dieting. Fats are limited as much as possible and carbohydrates are obtained almost exclusively from vegetables especially in the early phases of the diet.

Hate to say it but the rewards are undeniable. As the witty designer himself put it, “Dieting is the only game where you win when you lose.”