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In July, Karl Lagerfeld will present a collection made entirely of couture fur looks for Fendi to celebrate his 50th anniversary as head designer of the brand. In anticipation, the New York Times interviewed Lagerfeld and, as expected, the eccentric designer dispensed his famously unfiltered opinions on everything from the secret to longevity to why he moonlights as a photographer.
In the interview, Lagerfeld told Times reporter Matthew Schneier that he has never reflected on the past 50 years working at Fendi. "As long as you're in the business, you must not think about your own work," Lagerfeld explains. "In Germany, they made a huge exhibition of everything I did, Fendi, Chanel, Lagerfeld, Chloé and all that. I'm not even going to the show. I don't care."
On the subject of using fur in fashion, Lagerfeld takes a pragmatic view. "It's very easy to say no fur, no fur, no fur, but it's an industry," he says. "Who will pay for all the unemployment of the people if you suppress the industry of the fur?" Just don't mention how the fur gets off the animals and onto the dresses. "I hate the idea of killing animals in a horrible way, but I think all that improved a lot," Lagerfeld tells Schneier. "I think a butcher shop is even worse. It's like visiting a murder. It's horrible, no? So I prefer not to know it."
When he isn't designing, Lagerfeld shoots campaign ads for Chanel and Fendi, as well as magazine spreads, which has influenced his overall success. "If you do only collections, you end up in an ivory tower," Lagerfeld says. "You finish the collection and you are isolated until the time to get to the next one. That would be very boring. It's very bad and unhealthy to get isolated."
Burn out would seem like a very real threat to Lagerfeld, who manages multiple collections for multiple brands every single season. But he subscribes to a very focused, intense method of managing all of his jobs. "When I'm at Fendi, I don't even remember what I am doing somewhere else, and if I am somewhere else, I forgot what I did here," he explains. "What I do for Chanel never looks like Fendi. I have no personality. Perhaps I have three."