Karlisms: The World According to Karl Lagerfeld


Karlisms & The World According to Karl

Karl Lagerfeld’s quick wit and silver tongue are as notorious as Chanel’s quilted handbag.  He has strong convictions about everything, including how to live, work and dress, of course—These opinions come from a man who has steered the fashion industry for more than five decades at Chanel, Fendi, and his own label.  Karl is not only a hugely successful fashion designer, but he has an outrageous personality, and strong opinions about everything. Indeed, his quotes are so famous, that a book has been written, “The World According to Karl.”  In honor of Karl’s genius, we decided to reflect on his wit and wisdom, including his take on the selfie and why he doesn’t see any reason to stop designing now. Below in his own words, are his exacting opinions on everything-from fashion, style, women, and Chanel to fame, life, and books.

Karl Lagerfeld on…

1. Expensive Taste – “When I was four I asked my mother for a valet for my birthday”

2. His feelings after a fashion show – “I’m a kind of a fashion nymphomaniac who never gets an orgasm”

3. Losing weight – “I lost 200lbs to wear suits by Hedi Slimane.”


4.Love – “The only love that I really believe in is a mother’s love for her children.”

5. Fur in fashion – “In a meat-eating world, wearing leather for shoes and even clothes, the discussion of fur is childish.”

6. Being politically correct – “Be politically correct, but please don’t bother other people with conversation about being politically correct, because that’s the end of everything. You want to create boredom? Be politically correct in your conversation.

7. Never letting appearances slip – “I think everyone should go to bed like they have a date at the door.”

8. Coco Chanel – “What I do, Coco would have hated. The label has an image and it’s up to me to update it. I do what she never did. I had to find my mark. I had to go from what Chanel was, to what it should be.”


9. His infamous sunglasses – “They’re my burka… I’m a little short-sighted, and people, when they’re short-sighted, they remove their glasses and then they look like cute little dogs who want to be adopted.”

10. Not wanting children – “Having adult children makes you look 100 years old. I don’t want that.”

11. His iconic style – “I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that. It is like a mask. And for me the Carnival of Venice lasts all year long.”

12. Listening to other people – “I hate intellectual conversation with intellectuals because I only care about my opinion.”


13. Sweatpants – “Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants.”

14. His cat, Choupette – “She is like a kept woman. She has a strong personality.  She has lunch and dinner with me on the table, with her own food. She doesn’t touch my food. She doesn’t want to eat on the floor.  She sleeps under a pillow and she even knows how to use an iPad.”


15. Fashion designers being too busy – “We cannot talk about our suffering. People buy dresses to be happy, not to hear about somebody who suffered over a piece of taffeta.”

16. Tattoos – “I think tattoos are horrible. It’s like living in a Pucci dress full-time. If you’re young and tight maybe it’s OK, but…”

17. Diet and weight loss –  I only like what I’m allowed to like. I’m beyond temptation. There is no weakness. When I see tons of food in the studio, for us and for everybody, for me it’s as if this stuff was made out of plastic. The idea doesn’t even enter my mind that a human being could put that into their mouth. I’m like the animals in the forest. They don’t touch what they cannot eat.”


18. Humility – “I’m very much down to earth. Just not this Earth.”

19. Winning formula – “A sense of humor and a little lack of respect: that’s what you need to make a legend survive.”

20. Ambition – “I would like to be a one-man multi-national fashion phenomenon.”

21. Fashion staples – “If you were to ask me what I wish I had invented in fashion, it would be the white shirt. To me, a shirt is the basis for everything. Everything else comes afterwards.”

22. Unattractive people – “Life is not a beauty contest, some ugly people are great. What I hate is nasty, ugly people. The worst is ugly short men. Women can be short, but for men it is impossible. It is something that they will not forgive in life – they are mean and want to kill you…”

23. Bad style – “Never use the word ‘cheap.” Today everybody can look chic in inexpensive clothes (the rich buy them too). There is good clothing design on every level today. You can be the chicest thing in the world in a t-shirt and jeans – it’s up to you.”

24. Middleton sisters – “Kate Middleton has a nice silhouette. I like that kind of woman, I like romantic beauties. On the other hand, the sister struggles. I don’t like the sister’s face. She should only show her back.”

25. Retirement – “Why should I stop working?  If I do, I’ll die and it’ll all be finished.”



26. The past – “Back then I weighed 80 kilos, that was what I had 15 years ago. I put on my old Caracini (ph) suit and all this, but suddenly I looked like somebody from my own past, and I hate nothing more than my own past.”

27. Unprofessional photography – “No, it’s not a hobby. No, I hate unprofessional. No, it’s a profession, but I have a staff of five assistants and everything, and a huge studio.”

28. Name dropping –  “I hate name-dropping. I am not knowing so many unknown people, hmm?”

29. Childhood – “I hated the company of other children. I wanted to be a grownup person, to be taken seriously.  I hated the idea of childhood.”

30. Food –  “I hate the smell of cooking.”

31. Meat – “And I like fish better than meat. In fact, I hate meat.”

32. Traveling – “I am not a traveler. I hate it.”

33. Being in public – “Also I cannot go on airlines because people stare at me, you have to be touched by people. I hate that…I hate bespoke because I hate to be touched by strangers.”

34. Meetings – “I don’t do meetings.  At Chanel, there are no meetings.  At Chanel, we do what we want, whenever we want and it works.  And Fendi is the same.”

35. Certain rich people – “I hate rich people when they try to be communists or socialists. I think it’s obscene.”

36. Goals – “My only ambition in life … is to wear size 28 jeans.”


37. Garbage Cans – “I throw everything away … The most important piece of furniture in a house is the garbage can! I keep no archives of my own, no sketches, no photos, no clothes — nothing! I am supposed to do, nothing I’m not supposed to remember!”

38. Men his age – “I get along with everyone except for men my age, who are bourgeois or retired or boring.”

39. Underwear – “I’m not mad for thongs.”

40. Chanel – “Respect is not creative … Chanel is an institution, and you have to treat an institution like a whore — and then you get something out of her.”

41. Public – “In the whole world, there is nowhere I can go. Everybody has a camera, and it is flash-flash-flash, and I am a puppet, a marionette, Mickey at Disneyland for children to play with. In Japan, they touch me. I have Japanese women pinch my ass, so now I must say, ‘You can have the photo, but please don’t touch me.’ You cannot pinch the ass of a man my age!”


42. Russian Men – “If I was a woman in Russia I would be a lesbian, as the men are very ugly. There are a few handsome ones, like Naomi Campbell’s boyfriend, but there you see the most beautiful women and the most horrible men.”

43. Age – “I had a godfather who lived to 104, and his brother to 102, and their mother to 108. When my godfather died, he was totally normal, chic and everything. He got up early and dressed every day. After lunch he slept one hour and walked one hour afterwards … That is a long time they lived … They saw a lot. I would like to see as much.”

44. Swans – “Swans, they are the meanest animals in the world, you know. I had problems with them as a child. They hate children. I was caught by one, so I know. The idea of swans is lovely, and they have a beautiful shape, but they seem more romantic than they in fact are. I don’t think really they die like this. They just drop dead, hmm? But who wants to see that?”

45. Ideas – “People who do a job that claims to be creative have to be alone to recharge their batteries. You can’t live 24 hours a day in the spotlight and remain creative. For people like me, solitude is a victory.”

German designer Karl Lagerfeld (R) appears with models who stage a demonstration at the end of his Spring/Summer 2015 women's ready-to-wear collection for French fashion house Chanel during Paris Fashion Week September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

46.Homosexuality – “When I was a child I asked my mother what homosexuality was about and she said — and this was 100 years ago in Germany and she was very open-minded —  ‘It’s like hair colour. It’s nothing. Some people are blonde and some people have dark hair. It’s not a subject.’ This was a very healthy attitude.”

47. Intelligent women – “I remember a designer who said that intelligent women don’t wear her dresses. Obviously, she went bankrupt.”

48. Spending money – “If you throw money out of the window throw it out with joy. Don’t say: ‘one shouldn’t do that’ – that is bourgeois.”

49. Heidi Klum – “I don’t know Heidi Klum. She was never known in France. Claudia Schiffer, I also doesn’t know who she is.”

50. Revenge – “I know revenge is mean and horrible, but I see no reason why I shouldn’t do something back if somebody has done something mean to me. When people think it’s all forgotten I pull the chair away—maybe ten years later.”

51. Michelle Obama – I’m a big fan of Mrs. Obama – and her face, I think, is magical. He would not be there without her. Mrs. Obama is not a fashion statement, but she has other things to do. My favorite thing about Mrs Obama was when she was asked if her skirt was not too tight and she answered “Why you don’t like my big black ass?” I want [Barack] Obama to win because there is nothing better anyway, and especially because of her.”

See Karl’s latest Chanel Cruise 2017, a historic show in Cuba, here.



Share this post: