By and  on December 7, 2004

TOKYO — “They would have torn me to pieces,” Karl Lagerfeld said last week after he had to flee a thumping dance party thrown by Paris boutique Colette to fete its temporary boutique in collaboration with Comme des Garçons. The designer was practically tackled on the dance floor as fashion fanatics petted, pinched and kissed him.

“They wanted my clothing,” he said. “I’m not [prudish], but I don’t go out in order to get a massage.”

Welcome to the Land of Lagerfeld.

The designer, who was in town last week for the opening of the largest Chanel store in the world and to shoot a special Tokyo issue of Interview magazine with editor in chief Ingrid Sischy, created pandemonium wherever he went.

“Rock star! Rock star!” Vogue’s André Leon Talley declared as a swarm of fans dozens deep surged around Lagerfeld on Saturday, including a woman so overcome with emotion that she sobbed into the shoulder of the designer’s Dior Homme peacoat.

“You don’t need music today [to be famous],” was Lagerfeld’s offhand retort as a forest of arms held aloft camera-equipped cell phones to capture an image of a visiting fashion deity.

The designer was making an unexpected stop in front of the new Chanel flagship boutique in Ginza, where shoppers began queuing up at midnight to be among the first to enter at 10 a.m. By that hour, a line of hundreds snaked around the block.

“They don’t do this for Mick Jagger anymore,” Talley quipped.

Even the normally cool designer was nonplussed.

“It’s unbelievable,” Lagerfeld said last Thursday after he had to interrupt a fashion shoot in the Shibuya district when he was surrounded by hundreds of curiosity seekers, including local schoolboys in blazers, who excitedly asked the couturier to autograph their backpacks. “I’ve never seen anything like it. I don’t know how they are so well-informed. What is quite flattering for a man my age, the public is quite young.”

The scene was more orderly, but the adulation no less obvious, last Friday night, when Chanel reprised its “red carpet” spring 2005 runway show in a massive tent erected in front of the Imperial Palace. Decked out in Chanel, women arrived hours ahead of the 7 p.m. show, many laden with shopping bags from a preshow spree at Chanel. Some flew in especially for the evening from South Korea, Hong Kong and mainland China.

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