REVIEW As far as I know, Karl Lagerfeld is the only fashion designer to have had his likeness made into a collectible figurine. With his instantly identifiable uniform that foppishly mixes old (the white ponytail and high starched collars) and new (his omnipresent sunglasses, a small mine's worth of silver jewelry, exquisitely cut clothes in every shade of black), he has become as iconic as the Chanel bouclé suits he has designed for the house for 20-plus years. Rodolphe Marconi's documentary Lagerfeld Confidential performs a nice trick in letting us think we're getting a candid portrait of the man behind the sunglasses. Depth, though, is a tall order when his subject declares, "I don't want to be real in other people's minds; I want to be an apparition." What we do learn across this extended interview, goaded on by Marconi's softball needling, is that Lagerfeld's mother was a formative influence (she "exuded frivolity" and "made slaves of everyone") and that he was a sexually precocious youth. But as Wilde and Warhol have shown, the dandy's mode of address is aphoristic, not confessional. Given the frequency with which he dispenses such obfuscatory pronouncements as "Every friendship needs a sword of Damocles hanging over it" and "Fashion is ephemeral, dangerous, and unfair," perhaps Lagerfeld's next project should be a little book of quotations à la Chairman Mao. Of course, Lagerfeld's would be bound in black leather.
LAGERFELD CONFIDENTIAL opens Fri/14 at the Roxie Film Center.