This piece was originally published on March 16, 2012. We’re republishing it now following the news that iconic Chanel creative director Karl Lagerfeld died on Tuesday, February 19, 2019 at the age of 85. The house of Chanel confirmed the news on Instagram, with Chanel CEO Alain Wertheimer writing, “Thanks to his creative genius, generosity and exceptional intuition, Karl Lagerfeld was ahead of his time, which widely contributed to the House of Chanel success throughout the world.” Harper’s BAZAAR editor in chief Glenda Bailey remembered the designer in a touching essay, writing, “The world is a less beautiful place today. Karl Lagerfeld was a visionary right until the end. His mastery—of fabric, design, silhouette, and the very process of creative reinvention—was a breathtaking thing to behold … There will never be another Karl. He will live on in our hearts—and the pages of Bazaar—forever.” Revisit Lagerfeld’s 100 greatest Chanel runway moments here.
8:00 A.M. I sleep seven hours. If I go to bed at two, I wake up at nine. If I go to bed at midnight, I wake up at seven. I don’t wake up before—the house can fall apart, but I sleep for seven hours. I wear a long, full-length white shirt, in a material called poplin imperial, made for me by Hilditch & Key in Paris after a design of a 17th-century men’s nightshirt I saw at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The first thing I do when I get up, I have breakfast. I have two protein shakes made for me by my doctor—they have a chocolate taste and no sugar, of course—and steamed apples. That’s all. I don’t like anything else in the morning. I never drink anything hot; I don’t like hot drinks, very strange. I drink Diet Coke from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed. I can even drink it in the middle of the night, and I can sleep. I don’t drink coffee, I don’t drink tea, I drink nothing else.
I do most of my reading in the morning. I have a special canopy for that, near the window, where I can see the Louvre and the Seine. I only read, look at books, and sketch. And daydream—daydreaming’s important too. At night there are the dreams too, but I don’t have too many. I read the French, English, and some American papers, some German papers, Women’s Wear—quite a lot. I read on paper; I prefer that.
“I drink Diet Coke from the minute I get up to the minute I go to bed.”
11:00 A.M. I have my hair done because I hate to have hair in my face when I sketch. My hair is not really white; it’s kind of grayish, and I don’t like the color. So I make it totally white with Klorane dry shampoo. That is the best thing to do because my hair is always clean.
12:00 P.M. I don’t get dressed and take a bath until lunchtime because I am doing a dirty job, painting with colors. So I wear my long nightshirt; it becomes kind of like a painter’s smock, then it goes to the laundry. I have everything—sheets and nightshirt and robes—changed every day. I like everything to be washable, myself included. I like antique lace, antique sheets, beautiful quilted covers, but everything is white. In white you can hide nothing. Most people don’t use this kind of sheets and things because it’s very difficult and very expensive for the upkeep. But it’s such a pleasure to go to bed in the evening in a beautiful bed with beautiful sheets and beautiful pillows, everything flawless, in a freshly pressed, long white smock. It’s perfect.
When I’m ready, I soak in the bathtub, if you really want to know. I used to have a product I loved, by Shu Uemura, but they don’t make it anymore, so I found a French product that softens the water; it’s a hundred years old. I put half a bottle in the bathtub. I exercise very little because my doctor said it’s not necessary. I did a lot when I was very young, and all you do when you’re young stays. So it’s not the problem as with people who started later. I’m very flexible; I have no problems.
“I exercise very little because my doctor said it’s not necessary. I did a lot when I was very young, and all you do when you’re young stays.”
My latest uniform is actually two looks—a special jacket with tails made by Dior, but not what you wear for weddings. I have them made in tweed and things like this. Then I have another jacket I love from the new Dior men’s collection that I bought five of, so people think I wear the same thing every day, but in fact it’s never the same thing. And then I wear jeans; at the moment they are from my new collection. They are dark gray with my face, my profile, printed in black on them, but you really have to look at it to see it. My dressing room is so full that I can only wear what I see on top of all the racks. I still have all my clothes from 10 years ago from Dior, but I think I will give them back to Dior for the museum. I have pieces that are unique pieces that I will never wear again, because life is different now, you know. I used to fax a lot, but people don’t have faxes anymore.
I never have lunch, but when I do, I ask them to bring it to me in the house. I actually have two houses. This house here, it’s only for sleeping and sketching, and I have another house two-and-a-half meters away for lunch and dinner and to see people, and where the cook is and all that. I don’t want that here. Even if the place is huge, I want to be alone. If I want something, I call them, and they’re next door, they come. The studio is next door, the office is next door. If I have guests and butlers, I don’t want them in my house. Everything is next door.
4:00 P.M. I have two drivers and several cars. I have a driver who in the morning does the shopping for me and brings the newspapers, and another one, Sébastien, who is also my secretary, who is free in the morning and works in the afternoon and late in the evening. On my way to the Chanel studio, I like to look around, I like to look at Paris. I never get tired of Paris. A lot of people are on the phone all the time; they don’t see anything anymore. It’s true. I like to watch. I go from here to Galignani, my favorite bookshop, and then to Chanel, and then to Colette, and sometimes to the Dior men’s shop. I don’t go to too many shops.
5:00 P.M. I arrive at the studio very late in the afternoon because I want the première to stay in the workroom with the workers during the day. If they are in the studio with me, they don’t supervise the work. I go there from five to eight, half-past eight. I’m very quick and organized. The way I sketch, the way I work, I prefer to do all my work in the evening or in the morning and during the weekend, and I send everything on the iPhone. I’m not there in the studio draping—I don’t do those things. My work is very conceptual.
“I actually have two houses. This house here, it’s only for sleeping and sketching, and I have another house two-and-a-half meters away for lunch and dinner and to see people, and where the cook is and all that. I don’t want that here.”
9:00 P.M. Dinner depends on the day. I don’t go out that much because I’m always late, and I’m so busy and so pleased with what I’m doing that I’m not really ready for a social evening. That’s over—the people I was going out with are dead or don’t exist anymore. Sometimes I go to La Maison du Caviar, but most of the time I have dinner in the Rue des Saints-Pères house and come home after that. I hate the word routine. What I hate most is when you have to look at your watch and get in a hurry to change for dinner, if you have an important dinner. Every dinner is important; you should never be without a dinner, but this I’m a little tired of. I did a lot of it in my life.
To unwind, it depends on how tired I am. Sometimes I read a little bit. Lately, I play with my cat, Choupette. The cat always stays home, and when I leave, the maid takes care of her. The cat is like a very refined object; she doesn’t go into the street, and she doesn’t go to other places. She is a spoiled princess.
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