Getty ImagesJohn van Hasselt – Corbis
Karl Lagerfeld, the prodigious designer behind Chanel and Fendi, opens up about whose body he’d like to have, his greatest indulgence, what he really thinks about fashion, and much more.
Other than yourself, who is your favorite designer?
Difficult to give just one name. Miuccia, Nicolas, Stefano, Riccardo, Alber, Tom…but not one.
If you could come back as a dress, which one would it be?
The little black dress, but the white shirt would be better for me.
If you could come back as a model, who would you be?
I prefer not to come back.
What’s your favorite color?
Black and white…my favorite color couple.
What’s your favorite junk food?
A hamburger. I was born in Hamburg.
What are you most vain about?
I am just vain.
What are you most shy about?
If you are shy about something, the others take advantage of that, so I am shy about nothing, but discreet…as far as I am concerned.
If you could have somebody else’s body, whose would it be?
I’d prefer to be a girl with Gisele’s body, but mine was okay for this ride.
Who are your fantasy dinner party guests?
Not a very modern question. I love surprises, but I know whom I don’t want to see at my fantasy dinner table.
Where’s your favorite place to have a drink?
The Mathys bar in Paris and the hall of the Mercer in New York, but I just drink Coca-Cola Zero.
What’s your underwear of choice?
That’s a very personal question. HOM’s black lace underwear for men.
What can’t you travel without?
Private jets, I am afraid.
What’s the last book you read?
I read three books at the same time. The one in English at the moment is Lincoln Kirstein’s biography.
Do you have any pets?
No. The last one died and that is too sad.
What do you eat for breakfast?
Two pieces of toasted corn bread with Coca-Cola Zero. Not very refined, but I love it.
At age seven, you wanted to be:
An illustrator, a cartoon artist, and a portrait painter.
Name the thing you find easiest to forgive.
It’s too easy to forgive. I love revenge. Forgiving is not my favorite thing. I can forget by indifference, but not forgive.
Do you have any superstitions?
Many: hats and shoes on beds, never pass under a ladder, etc.
What’s your biggest self-indulgence?
Spending too much.
Favorite place to shop?
Colette in Paris, Maxfield in L.A., and all the bookshops around the world.
Whose wallet would you like to steal?
I am not a thief.
Whose diary would you most like to read?
I stopped keeping a diary. People love to read your diary. I would never do that.
What’s your least favorite food?
Fromage de chèvre.
If you were an inventor, what would you invent?
Who is your favorite furniture designer?
From today: Marc Newson and Zaha Hadid. From the past: Pierre Legrain, Eileen Gray. In the eighteenth century: Riesener, Tilliard.
What’s your favorite car?
The new Bugatti.
When and where are you happiest?
I am never happy. Happiness scares me; then I am afraid to be less happy. Happiness is a very dangerous state of mind.
Who’s your best friend? Who’s your worst enemy?
One can never really know, and I am not a name-dropper. Enemy? Who cares.
What piece of art would you most like to own?
A bird by Brancusi.
Where is your favorite vacation spot?
For the moment, the Var in the south of France. It was Biarritz before, but also Monte Carlo and Saint-Tropez in the past and different lives. I hate the word vacation—it sounds like something empty.
What’s your most treasured possession?
I try not to be sentimental and obsessive about possessions. I love collecting, but I hate owning.
Who’s your favorite fictional character?
Your favorite band/musician/song?
Rufus Wainwright’s last CD, for the moment.
If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
I would be a photographer or a publisher, which, in fact, I am too.
What current trend would you like to see disappear?
There are a few. Trends fade away anyway, so let’s be patient.
What’s your biggest fashion regret?
No regrets and no remorse.
Favorite trend of all time?
Worst trend of all time?
The ’80s as seen from now with the eyes of somebody who remembers.
This interview originally appeared in the September 2007 issue of ELLE.