In a poignant project, the last collaboration he green-lighted before he died in 2019, Karl Lagerfeld and his trusted associate Sébastien Jondeau created a collectible Bearbrick figurine made in the designer’s likeness in his twilight years, including his white beard.
The collectible from Medicom Toy, the Japanese maker of Bearbrick dolls, is to be released on Feb. 18 and 19, the latter date falling exactly three years after Lagerfeld’s passing after a long battle with cancer he fought in private.
Jondeau’s partner in the collaboration is French DJ and music producer Jean-Roch Pédri, known by most people simply as Jean-Roch and as the founder of the legendary VIP Room club in Saint-Tropez. Introduced to Bearbricks by his best buddy Jondeau, Jean-Roch proposed that one day they should team up to do one based on Lagerfeld, given his fame and rock-star persona.
In a crazy coincidence, when Jondeau finally presented the mockup drawings in April 2018, Lagerfeld was dressed exactly like the final figurine, in a suit jacket with an animal motif.
“How did you do that?” the formidable designer quizzed his longtime bodyguard and personal secretary. “I don’t know,” Jondeau shrugged, still marveling at the serendipity.
Jondeau and Jean-Roch had decided to give the Bearbrick a beard as they found it helped diminish the prominent jowls that are a feature of the cartoon-like character, meant to represent a futuristic bear.
“It really was how Karl looked at the moment when he chose it,” Jondeau related in an interview, noting he and Jean-Roch also modeled the sunglasses after the diamond-studded model by Shamballa that Lagerfeld favored the last years of his life.
About the beard — Lagerfeld had last sported one in the 1970s, along with a monocle — Jondeau said Lagerfeld simply “loved to change his looks,” and perhaps reduce the time spent getting ready in the morning.
The collectible figurine, dubbed “The Kaiser,” will be produced in a limited run of 1,999 units, with the first 500 priced at 4,490 euros. (The rest of the product run has yet to be priced.)
“It’s not just a doll, it’s a piece of art,” said Jondeau, who was gifted a number of Bearbricks by Lagerfeld, including one dressed in Chanel released in 2006. Billed as the first fashion Bearbrick by a luxury house, the Chanel figurine was dispatched to editors and friends of the house and now trade for as much as $20,000, according to Jondeau.
Jondeau’s collection also includes Bearbricks done in collaboration with Daft Punk and the fashion houses Fendi and MM6 Maison Margiela, and the new Karl Lagerfeld one will take pride of place at his Paris home.
The Karl Lagerfeld flagship store on Boulevard Saint Germain in Paris will be the only physical store where it can be purchased, and has already dedicated all its windows to the project.
For the launch event, billed as a celebration of Lagerfeld’s life and fashion career, Jondeau plans to host an Instagram Live session on his personal account on the afternoon of Feb. 19, discussing the Bearbrick project and offering tours of the store. There will also be a three-hour DJ set in the store on Feb. 18.
The figurine will subsequently be offered for purchase by emailing email@example.com.