Fashion designers court celebrity status

Fashion designers court celebrity status
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First Published: Wed, Feb 28 2007. 10 10 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Feb 28 2007. 10 10 PM IST
AP
Paris: After the fashion shows, the book and the CD, get ready for the new movie on fashion guru Karl Lagerfeld.
The ponytailed German designer is the star of the documentary “Lagerfeld Confidential”, which premiered at this month’s Berlin Film Festival, cementing his status as a fully fledged celebrity.On 28 February, the 68-year-old gave a display of the tailoring skills that have propelled him into the pantheon of superstar couturiers, showing somber separates with an 1980s twist in his autumn-winter collection for his eponymous Karl Lagerfeld line.
Models paraded through the corridors of the Sorbonne university in boxy pea coats and utilitarian shifts trimmed with black leather. Winkle pickers with multiple buckles were worn with everything from silvery gray skinny trousers to a black chiffon evening gown.Many fashion observers predicted that the phenomenon of designer-as-celebrity would lose steam after the shock departure of Tom Ford from Gucci in 2004, but an endless public appetite for fashion has produced the contrary effect.
Lagerfeld, who also designs for Chanel and Fendi, is ubiquitous, thanks to a highly successful limited edition collection for Swedish high-street retailer H&M. Besides photographing spreads for glossy magazines, he has launched a diet book and a CD of his favourite tunes.The designer said he never leaves home without his bodyguard because he is constantly approached in the street.
“One is obliged today because we live in such a crazy world, and it’s not because I’m afraid that people will talk to me,” he told The Associated Press. “It can be a little exhausting because you lose a certain kind of freedom, but you can’t have your cake and eat it.”Italian designer Valentino, who also showcased his fall designs, has appeared on the US television shows of Oprah Winfrey and Martha Stewart , even showing viewers how to prepare his favourite dish, rigatoni Portofino.
However, some industry insiders feel that designers who spend too much time outside the studio are in danger of losing touch.“You can’t be a fashion designer and a showman at the same time,” said Vincent Gregoire, creative manager of Paris-based trend forecasting agency Nelly Rodi.
“There is a real problem in fashion right now of a rift between designers who think they are God in their ivory towers, with runway shows that are all about spectacle, and the reality of the market where they feel the power is slipping away from them.”
High street retailer Mango is cheekily spoofing Lagerfeld and other top designers in a media campaign to encourage students to take part in a talent contest.Its advertising images for the Mango Fashion Awards features unknowns dressed like Lagerfeld, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood with the tagline: “Take the place of the big ones”.
Some self-consciously feed their caricature image, but Valentino takes an old-school approach.“I want a woman to look beautiful. It’s a very simple statement, but it’s my mantra,” he said in the liner notes to his show.
That has earned him the undying gratitude of Hollywood stars like Kate Winslet, Cameron Diaz and Anne Hathaway, who all wore his creations to the Oscars on 25 February.
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First Published: Wed, Feb 28 2007. 10 10 PM IST