By  on September 12, 2006

Don't cross Karl Lagerfeld — especially about his childhood. The designer has blasted the new book by Alicia Drake, "The Beautiful Fall: Fashion, Genius and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris," which focuses on the rivalry between Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent and their intertwined loves and muses over the decade.

But what really touched Lagerfeld's nerves was Drake's claims about the designer's past. First, she asserts that, at 73, he's older than he admits and, worse, that much of his idyllic childhood in Germany was his own invention. Lagerfeld — who didn't cooperate with the book — isn't threatening to sue, but fired off a scathing three-page letter to Drake — obtained by WWD — charging her with faulty research, questioning the credibility and motives of her key sources — including his late cousin Kurt Lagerfeld — and citing "100 mistakes and more," including inaccuracies about the Lagerfeld family homestead.

"Your 'book' is more based on 'suppositions' and improvised 'conclusions' than on truth," Lagerfeld wrote to Drake. As for his late cousin, the designer told Drake: "He hated me and he hated my mother, as he told you. What he says about her is a shame! I have not seen him for over 50 years, have no idea what his children look like. He was never in Baden Baden in my parents' house there.

"Not a word about my half-sister (also dead by now). There was a lot to say. They were very close and against my mother and me. They got no money when my father died and must have resented that for the rest of their lives. I had not seen her since 1964 or '65 [in Baden Baden]."

As for the family's house, Lagerfeld sent Drake photos of it and disputed his cousin's claims that it was a mere four-bedroom bungalow. Instead, the designer said: "It had 14 rooms in two buildings — one behind the other. We had never to leave the house. There was food all the time and the description of the end of the war is very romantic, but it was very different. There were not even shelters and they weren't needed. The farmers were not poor people with three cows.

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