POLITICALLY CORRECT?: The 25th-anniversary issue of Spanish Marie Claire boasts 322 pages and a famous guest editor, Karl Lagerfeld, who even shot the cover image: a portrait of models Heidi Mount, Jon Kortajarena and Kati Nescher.

But it’s Lagerfeld’s admonishment of France’s new Socialist government and its antirich attitude — exemplified by a 75 percent tax rate on incomes over 1 million euros — that’s getting most of the attention. Over the weekend, a slew of international media seized on Lagerfeld’s use of the word imbécil (idiot, in English) to describe French President François Hollande — which Marie Claire notes is misleading.

This story first appeared in the October 22, 2012 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“I confirm that the declaration (and the word ‘imbécil’) was taken out of context. Karl Lagerfeld was referring to Hollande’s policies, especially those connected with the taxes pertaining to large fortunes,” editor in chief Joana Bonet told WWD over the weekend.

During an interview, Bonet said to the designer, “I hear Hollande hates the rich,” to which he replied, “He’s disastrous. He wants to punish them and, of course, they’re leaving (the country). Nobody is investing. Foreigners don’t want to invest any more in France — and this is not working. Besides, France — apart from fashion, jewelry, perfume and wine — is not competitive. Nothing else sells. Who buys French cars? Not me.”

Lagerfeld addressed the furor on national TV in France Sunday night. He denied to France 2 interviewer Laurent Delahousse that he used the term idiot. “Of course I never said that! I don’t speak Spanish, I speak a little of Italian but no Spanish,” he said. “I saw him [Hollande] on TV and I found him very fun, spiritual and intelligent,” adding, “The luxury business is an industry that makes a lot of money and should not be considered like something we should be ashamed off.”

If Hollande is indeed stung by Lagerfeld’s remarks, perhaps he should consider the designer’s advice about barbs in the press, revealed in the magazine’s “guest star” introduction.

Lagerfeld says, “I don’t care if people I admire criticize me because their opinion is valuable to me. But with those I don’t care about, it makes no difference (what they say), good or bad, because I don’t read them.”

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