What’s Karl Lagerfeld’s opinion about France, his adopted home? Well, it seems pretty grim, judging from an opinion piece he penned in this week’s Paris Match.
The weekly magazine solicited the Chanel designer to weigh in on the country’s current condition as part of a series of articles leading up to next year’s presidential elections. In his page-long critique, Lagerfeld calls France stultified and says it has lost prestige because of a reticence to change and lack of moxie. “Has work become so unexciting that over 35 hours on the job is hell?” he asks in a swipe at the country’s 35-hour work week. “I admit that there are boring and horrible jobs. But for others, what a lack of passion and spirit. In my case, 35 hours a week is what I rest.”
Lagerfeld likewise laments an increasingly unenergetic Paris. “Just 15 years ago, when I left Paris for two weeks, I felt I’d miss something. Not now. I have more fun in New York than Paris. When I’m not in Paris, I tend to forget it. Without a doubt it’s because the French have become too reasonable….[Paris] is beautiful but it has no verve.”
And even if France remains the world’s luxury capital, thanks to the likes of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton tycoon Bernard Arnault, whom Lagerfeld compares with Bill Gates, the couturier describes the country’s attitude toward money and luxury as “extraordinarily hypocritical.” Not all is lost, though. Paris remains fashion’s “international platform,” Lagerfeld concedes. “Still, after all these years, I don’t feel Parisian. I’m at home everywhere. All I need is a hotel room. I don’t need roots. It’s for that reason fashion suits me so well. I make, I unmake, I remake….”
This story first appeared in the November 3, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.