PARIS — The Karl Lagerfeld label is heading to the Pitti Uomo trade show with a new unified men’s wear collection and a capsule line curated by the designer’s longtime personal assistant Sébastien Jondeau.
The label plans to fuse its Lagerfeld and Karl Lagerfeld labels under a single Karl Lagerfeld collection, which will be presented for the first time at the fair taking place in Florence from Jan. 9 to 12.
“Pitti represents an exciting platform to showcase our Karl Lagerfeld men’s collection and vision,” said Pier Paolo Righi, chief executive officer of Karl Lagerfeld. “It is our mission to continuously excite our consumers with great stories and make them a part of our brand experience.”
Jondeau, who has appeared in the label’s advertising campaigns and often flanks Lagerfeld on the red carpet, has designed a range of clothes spanning from sweatshirts to tuxedos, inspired by his multitasking lifestyle and love of sports such as boxing and motocross.
The Karl Lagerfeld Curated by Sébastien Jondeau collection, which includes ready-to-wear, accessories and footwear, will launch from August in Karl Lagerfeld stores worldwide, online at karl.com and via select wholesale partners.
“It’s everything I like to wear, like an ideal version of my wardrobe,” Jondeau told WWD in an exclusive interview at the brand’s Paris showroom. “My style is very urban, yet it can also be quite strict — strict and chic, since I can go from wearing sweats and a pair of Jordans to a three-piece suit.”
That day, his morning workout outfit consisted of a Nike Jumpman logo sweatshirt and Air Jordan 6 sneakers, paired with Sweet Pants jogging pants printed with a marijuana leaf pattern.
In the afternoon, he usually changes into something smarter to drop by his office, from which he oversees Lagerfeld’s private staff, before heading off to professional appointments with the designer, who juggles his own label with his duties as creative director of Chanel and Fendi.
Jondeau, who grew up in the poor Paris suburb of Garges-lès-Gonesse, met Lagerfeld as a 15-year-old working for a family-owned art moving company during his school vacations. He was hired full-time in 1997, graduating from bodyguard to personal assistant — not to mention style-setter.
In addition to the Lagerfeld campaigns, he has walked the Chanel catwalk at the German couturier’s invitation — most recently for its Métiers d’Art show in Hamburg — and bared his bottom for a 2011 photo shoot for Pirelli.
“I’ve never found myself good-looking, but I know I have a specific look so that is probably why Karl has used me for fashion shows and shoots,” said Jondeau, sporting his signature beanie hat and a salt-and-pepper beard.
“I have a particular style, and I do think that’s something that might appeal to a lot of people. And it’s true that my personal style, thanks to Karl’s celebrity and worldwide reputation, is quite readily identifiable, given that I am never very far from him,” he added.
Jondeau worked with the Lagerfeld team to create items such as a buttery black leather jacket with a shearling collar, cashmere knits, a technical parka and figure-hugging tuxedos. Hybrid items include a sport coat spliced with a denim jacket, while accessories range from bow ties to a cashmere beanie.
“I was thrilled to be given this opportunity,” he said, crediting the Lagerfeld design team for making his vision come to life. “Who would have thought that a personal assistant, or bodyguard, or whatever you want to call me, would ever get to work on a collection?”
Graphic T-shirts feature personal details such as his initials and year of birth, 1975. A varsity jacket harks back to the outfits he wore as a teen. “Back then, the fashion was 501 jeans, Stan Smiths and a varsity jacket,” he recalled. “You had to be able to afford that kind of jacket, then fight to keep it.”
Jondeau says Lagerfeld broadened his horizons, not just in terms of fashion but also books, furniture and art.
“To be honest, I owe everything to Karl and the people around him,” he said, though ambition clearly played a role. “I’ve always worked three times as hard as others because already at school, I wanted to be independent and make money.”
As a teen he would watch private jets take off from the nearby airport of Le Bourget. “These days, whenever I travel by private jet, I take off across from the estate where I grew up,” he mused, adding that he still has close friends in the neighborhood.
Meanwhile, his entrepreneurial spirit is thriving. Jondeau’s business activities include private security and he dreams of opening his own boxing gym. But he says it’s premature to consider a Sébastien Jondeau brand.
“I’d like to see how people react to the line — then I can start talking about that kind of thing. Maybe not a Sébastien Jondeau brand, but if I have the opportunity to design for another brand, or to continue for the Karl Lagerfeld brand, I would love to because it’s fun and it’s opening up a new world to me,” he concluded.