Only hours after showing his fall collection, a breathtaking dissertation on the joys of cold-weather dressing, the busiest man in fashion finds time for a chat. But then, as Karl Lagerfeld puts it, “If speed is too much for you, don’t complain. That’s our world.”
What is your take on the fashion system today?
We are in the middle of change, like the movies changed. There will be a change from two-dimensions to three-dimensions, just as films went from silent to talking. This is a very interesting period. There is nothing you can do to prevent it. These are our times, and if you start to fight against them, you are lost. You are a loser or a has-been.
How do you deal with the speed of fashion today, the endless seasons, etc.?
We live in a speedy world. We are here to make the products light and modern. If speed is too much for you, don’t complain. That’s our world. We are not in the old days with two couture collections a year. At Chanel, we have six ready-to-wear collections, in fact: fall, pre-fall, métiers d’art, spring, pre-spring and cruise, and so the merchandise in the stores changes every two months. We reduce the time as much as we can. Creativity is not an issue. If you are not capable of doing it, you do another job. Doing fashion today is like being a racecar driver. That’s how I see it. So if the world of today doesn’t fit with your creativity, do your thing in an intimate, small way, but don’t play the victim. We have to fit in to our times.
That said, you’re not a fan of online retail.
I don’t believe in selling luxury online because shopping is pleasant. E-commerce deprives people of the pleasure of shopping in beautiful shops. And you know, fashion is not only what the clothes are made of — it’s the feeling of luxury where you shop, how you shop, the way parcels are beautifully wrapped. (Online) there are too many fakes, too many copies. Originals still have to be seen and touched. Because expensive clothes are not only about the look. It’s also about the touch.
You don’t use Twitter or other social media.
But I have nothing against it. I buy computers because they are beautiful objects. Personally, I don’t use them that much, but I don’t use cell phones and Blackberries and all that. It’s not because I want to be cut off from the world, but because I have different priorities. I like to do everything myself. I know pretty well about dressmaking — a technique that is difficult to get, as you know. My eyes are open, but they are not limited to a screen. For me, the world is a huge screen. That’s how I see it.
If the show calendar were to be reworked, what would be the perfect timing?
They should do men and women together [in January and June]. The men, why they are so early? Men’s clothes are much easier to produce than women’s clothes. So why don’t they do it all together? That would be wonderful. I think men and women should be in the same time together, 10 days or a week. Some people should make beautiful showroom presentations instead of doing poor-looking big shows. I’m very much against runway collections that nobody buys and who don’t exist. Everything you see on the Chanel runway, you get in the showroom.