HYÈRES, France — Karl Lagerfeld hates the label “young designers.”
“There are good or bad designers,” he said during a 40-minute master class on Friday at the 30th edition of the International Festival of Fashion and Photography here. He refers to the “generations to come” instead.
Around 150 festival goers waited to listen to the fashion designer. Attendees included Princess Caroline of Hanover, Jack Lang, Carine Roitfeld, Caroline de Maigret, Anthony Vaccarello and Felipe Oliveira Baptista.
They weren’t disappointed. Lagerfeld, interviewed by Godfrey Deeny, fashion editor at large at Le Figaro, entertained the audience with his trademark sense of humor and pithy remarks. Among them:
• On architecture: Lagerfeld cited German architect Walter Gropius among his favorite architects; Tadao Ando and Zaha Hadid for his favorite contemporary architects. “My only frustration in life is not being able to build a modern house in France [with Tadao Ando].” Permits were denied.
• On participating in a fashion contest as a young man in 1954: “It was a worldwide contest organized by the international Woolmark company. They had huge posters in cities saying to send sketches if you aren’t a professional. I sent a few sketches, forgot about it. Later, I got a telegram. I was told I won the first for the prize…It was a lot of money…I went immediately in a place in the passage des Champs-Elysées and spent everything on clothes. It was a happy day. There were a few more.”
• His advice to young designers: “Every case is different. It depends what they want, what they can do. I believe careers are built on no rules.”
• On receiving applications from candidates: “If they present computer sketches, I throw them back in their faces. They all look the same.”
• On fashion: “There is a problem with fashion today…Now designers want to be artists but fashion is an applied art. But it is not art the way they pronounce the word: ‘Art.’ It’s a lack of modesty. If you think you are an artist, become an artist if a gallery would take it.”
• His suggestions to Virginie Viard, Chanel’s creative studio director and president of the fashion jury, and Eric Pfrunder, image director at Chanel fashion and president of the photography jury, to choose the best designer in Hyères: “I want to influence nobody. I am interested in other people’s choice. In this case, I am interested in Virginie and Eric’s choices.”
• On his creative process: “I work with my instincts. I don’t have to fuss around for ages. I have an electric flash…I am not changing my mind.”
• On collecting books: “Today, I only collect books; there is no room left for something else. If you go to my house, I’ll have you walk around the books. I ended up with a library of 300,000. It’s a lot for an individual.”
• On building a library for his books with Tadao Ando: “I would love to but if I cannot build it…Also, I don’t know where. The library is in French, English and German.”
• On his life: “I never wanted to be a businessman…As a child, I thought I would become famous; after a while, I became more modest.”
• On the new generation of designers: “They are much nicer than in the past.”