By  on June 1, 2009

MOSCOW — On Friday, Naomi Campbell was wearing a czarist-inspired outfit and perched on the balcony ledge of a ninth-floor presidential suite here. Behind her, jutting from roofs, were gold onion domes and red Soviet stars. Makeup artists buzzed around, their feet almost over the edge of the precipice.

“Paparazzi, there, there, on the roof, I see them,” she suddenly cried.


“Where, where?” came the anxious reply from a scrum of assistants, tanned models and a bodyguard.

In the middle of it all, unruffled and with his camera trained on Campbell, was Karl Lagerfeld.

The designer was in the city — amazingly, his first time ever — for a presentation of the Paris-Moscow collection, which made its debut in Paris in December and pays tribute to Chanel’s Russian links (Coco Chanel and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich were lovers). It was the first time a Chanel collection had been shown in Moscow since 1967. The Campbell shoot, for an issue of V magazine, was something Lagerfeld fit in on the side.

Visiting Moscow wasn’t only a chance for Lagerfeld to trace Chanel’s roots — it was also an opportunity to revisit his own.

In a good-humored interview before the show, Lagerfeld said that, while he’d only been in town a day, he’d already formed some strong opinions about Russians.

“I think the women are better than the men. I think if I were a woman here, I would be a lesbian,” he said sardonically, wearing dark glasses, a custom-made high-collared shirt and a Martin Margiela suit and tie.

But then, remembering whom he’d just photographed, he added: “I met only one very handsome man — that’s the boyfriend of Naomi [real estate mogul Vladislav Doronin]. He’s quite stunning. With the others, maybe I don’t have the right eye.”

Lagerfeld didn’t have a chance to do any sightseeing, not even the attractions on his hotel’s doorstep — Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. But he said it didn’t really bother him.

“Moscow is a city I knew quite well without coming here because I’m an informed person — there are so many books, novels, photos, that in a way I know it….I have a feeling I know exactly what is in every museum.”

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