PARIS — Since Karl Lagerfeld’s passing, many of his followers, quite understandably, are worried about his beloved cat: Choupette.
Born Aug. 15, 2011, Choupette started life as the pet of French model Baptiste Giabiconi, one of Lagerfeld’s discoveries. According to Choupette’s Wikipedia page, Lagerfeld was cat-sitting Choupette for Giabiconi, who was abroad. Upon the model’s return, he refused to hand her back.
Choupette scored. The designer famously liked to lavish attention on the feline, known as fashion’s most pampered pet, with two ladies-in-waiting — Françoise and Marjorie — caring for her full-time. Choupette was surely pampered by her two nannies, whom Karl would invite to the Chanel shows, introducing them to people close to him. Sébastien Jondeau, Lagerfeld’s bodyguard and personal assistant, was also tasked with watching over her.
According to the tome, “Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat,” released by Flammarion in 2014 — compiled by Patrick Mauriès and Jean-Christophe Napias, and featuring quotes by Lagerfeld on his favorite subject — the privileged cat also has her own private medical consultant, Dr. Yola Horn, and never travels without her custom-made luggage by Vuitton and Goyard.
The cat would join her owner for lunch and dinner, on the table, eating from her own silver Goyard dishes. “She never touches my food. She would never eat on the floor,” said Lagerfeld. “Choupette is a woman spoiled to death,” said the designer in a separate quote. “Choupette isn’t a typical Chanel woman. She’s more Jean Harlow.”
Her most high-profile appearances, meanwhile, include starring in a Lagerfeld-lensed portfolio in the 2016 December issue of Vogue Paris, guest-edited by the designer. (He also divulged elements of the Birman’s beauty routine in the issue.)
When it came to Choupette, nothing was too much for her besotted owner, who even alluded to the idea of marriage. “There is no marriage, yet, for human beings and animals….I never thought I would fall in love like this with a cat,” Lagerfeld told CNN in 2013.
Choupette’s first media appearance is said to date back to 2012, when V magazine’s Stephen Gan tweeted a photo of her from Lagerfeld’s apartment. Choupette, with her Baked Alaska-hued fur and sapphire-blue eyes which inspired the shades of Chanel’s 2014 Métiers d’Art collection, pretty much had all of the Vogues covered, appearing on the cover of Vogue Brazil, in the arms of Gisele Bündchen, and German Vogue, snuggling up to Linda Evangelista. She also fronted titles including Numéro and Japan’s Spur.
At one stage, she was holding down two jobs, as the face of a Shu Uemura makeup line she inspired and carmaker Opel’s 2015 calendar, gigs reported to have generated millions of euros.
She also has her own Instagram account — choupettesdiary — which was hacked in 2017 and boasts over 300,000 followers.
The famous feline in 2013 inspired a capsule collection, including a knit cap with perky cat ears and leather whiskers, while 2017 saw the launch of a limited-edition scented candle created by Lagerfeld and perfumer John-Paul Welton, bearing an illustration of the cat by her designer owner. A limited-edition cuddly toy version of Choupette by German-based plush toy company Steiff launched in early 2017, while the cat also starred in the spring 2018 Ikonik capsule from Lagerfeld’s namesake line.
Lagerfeld, for the cat’s seventh birthday, threw a party with fabric toys, a sparkly sign on the wall crafted by her nannies and, in lieu of a cake, a single candle stuck on a plate of shrimp. Among those in attendance were Lagerfeld’s two godsons, and Jondeau, who posted a group shot on Instagram.
In recent years, Choupette’s name usually came up whenever WWD visited the Chanel studio for previews, and Lagerfeld would often flash pictures on his iPhone taken by his nannies and dispatched to him throughout the day.
Last January, on the eve of Chanel’s spring 2019 couture show, the designer was unequivocal about the cat’s effect on him: “She made me a better person,” he said.