Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Karl Lagerfeld, 1933-2019

Karl Lagerfeld has passed onto a more chic mode of being. I wrote this blog roughly from the ages of 15-21. I lived in a small town and high school was dull and boring -- it's not an exaggeration to say that Karl was in some ways my teenager-hood. I woke up this morning to a bunch of emails in my inbox -- I kept reading 'was' and it was clear that Karl was dead.

Karl had a sense of the absurdity of fashion. He loved books. He hated the past. He literally mined his entire aesthetic from the past. He was a delightful contradiction. His mother, who bore a more than a passing resemblance to him (she used to say to him "you look like me, but not as good") died at 82. Instead of bed rest, she went to get her hair done. 

When you are a certain age you grasp onto myths: I had an obsession with William Eggleston, Truman Capote, Rei Kawakubo -- myth-like people -- characters who can be defined by a few lines. Karl was always the most mythic. I watched Lagerfeld Confidential and read The Beautiful Fall and became entrenched within this world where it's perfectly sane to buy a thousand dollar shoe-horn, because of course. That world feels gone, largely -- billionaires are tacky and boring -- a thousand Patagonia vests won't make up for a well-made Chanel cardigan. Yves Saint Laurent is dead. Warhol is dead. Issy Blow is dead. Karl knew he was the last -- he was a remnant of the Weimar Republic -- of decadence and the imagined Berlin of Lou Reed's Berlin. He had three hundred ipods. He had silver rings strewn about in bowls, like metallic candy. 

Karl probably would've found death the end and moved on. This is the man who wrote, "I have no human feelings." Karl's mother didn't tell him about the death of his father for weeks -- she said to him "you don't like funerals, why should I tell you?" -- his image, like Warhol's, was so fixed in the last two decades (the 'skinny Karl' era, let's say) that at some point he ceased to become human - this was the joke, of course. I always smirked at news outlets that tried to court outrage with his often ridiculous comments -- the ridiculousness was the joke, they weren't in on it. The point was never to take what he said seriously - the point was his continued elevation of a character, the ultimate act of fashion; utterly superficial and sincere.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


-Miuccia Prada is a genius! says Diane, who owns more than her fair share of Prada’s clothes
-Oh, she just does the opposite to everyone else, says Eartha
-No, no, says Diana, pursing her lips together. Diana’s lips are a marvel: they are plump and shiny like one of those blow up sculptures that were hip in contemporary art ten years ago. They are Eartha’s first encounter with botox. They don’t have botox where Eartha comes from.

Diana frowns, and the whole table frowns with Diana.
-But she’s so much more than that! says January,
-I know, says Diana, I know. –She’s a genius
-I know, says Eartha. She drinks her wine. It is red wine. Diana’s assistant makes sure they have both red and white wine at the table. It saves ordering.
-But that’s what she said in the New Yorker, says Eartha again
Diana has already moved on from the genius of Miuccia Prada. She is now considering the genius of others. Gareth Pugh, for instance, who nobody will care about in years to come. Her lips move upwards, forming a blow-up sculpture smile.
-Excuse me? she says
-Oh, I read a profile of her, where she said she just does the opposite, says Eartha
-Oh! Journalists! says Diana. She knows Miuccia Prada, personally. She knows the genius of Miuccia Prada. She is also a little scared of Miuccia. Nobody understands the female zeitgeist quite like Miuccia. Nobody except Phoebe Philo, perhaps, who is less scary but she doesn’t know personally.
-It kind of is opposite, though, isn’t it? says Diana

-Look at my shoes, says January. They are chunky and have little birds printed on them. –Is that just opposite?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

New Yorker, Misspent youth, etc

The most money anybody ever spent on me, whilst this blog was a popular and happening thing, was POP magazine. I am unsure if POP magazine exists anymore. It probably does. I never liked magazines very much (even when this blog was a happening thing)- I couldn’t get used to the ads and the terrible and inevitably breathless prose. The only magazine I read is the New Yorker. For years I would go to whatever library happened to be nearest to where I was living at the time and religiously read it, paying attention to all the current exhibitions and goings-on and the delightfully snarky comments hidden between lines of holier-than-thou well-fact-checked reporting. The library nearest where I lived in 2010 had a pile of old New Yorkers dating back to 2005: I took all of them. I carried them up the hill (like Kate Bush, but not running) in plastic bags and they ended up as a vast stack beside the toilet of the place we were living. The house was a depilated Victorian villa, which at some point during the 60s had been cut-up randomly into two flats. The fellow in the flat behind us lived somewhere else, and used his flat almost exclusively to brew beer. He made weed beer once, and gave me some to try.

-Weed beer! I said
-Yeah,  dock weed he said
-Oh, I said.

Dock weed, you see, contains a good quantity of vitamin C and as such was brewed by sailors to prevent scurvy. It tasted like one of those vitamin C pills people take around winter (you see them advertised in health shop run by women who smell like incense). It tasted suspiciously healthy. It probably would be worth marketing to people who eat kale (I realize kale jokes are old by now, but will there be any vegetable more iconic than kale is to the first two decades of this century? Coconuts, though not a vegetable, are perhaps a contender but kale is to our generation as turtle soup was to the Victorians).

I read most of the New Yorkers with great vigour. Outdated New Yorkers are great- especially reviews of restaurants which have no closed and profiles of things which are not a thing anymore (zunes, ipods, etc). One can gather a similar thrill from reading old NY Times fashion reviews of houses which do not exist anymore, or exist in a mutilated state. Now I subscribed to the New Yorker and I do not go to the library anymore. The only good thing at the library is the New Yorkers. Each week, a nicely packaged magazine comes, and I throw away the shrink wrap and I am up to date on the soylent situation or whatever. The library near where I lived has been changed somewhat, and the reading there is no good anyway.

My short digression on the New Yorker (and my love of it) is mostly to reflect on how absurd it is that I, one who is indifferent to magazines, was paid for to go to London and make some kind of pull-out poster zine with a bunch of other people. I don’t hate magazines. I was simply raised to believe they were too expensive, much like cafĂ© food, and buying things “full price”. It is hard to rid myself of this nature, but I am progressing. I have spent around two hundred (NZD) on an alarm clock, and a hundred dollars on a candle (the candle smelt nice). The only magazine I ever purchased was the POP magazine I was in, because they never sent it to me. Logistics, etc.

Tavi was invited to go to London, and she ended up being on the cover of said magazine. Tavi invited me to tag along, and her friend Laia, and her friend Arabelle, who couldn’t come, so Elizabeth came along instead (now Elizabeth makes amazing ceramics: I know because of facebook).

I was sixteen and wore t-shirts and jeans and everybody dressed better than me. A driver in a black car took me from the airport to the POP magazine offices, which were down a nondescript street near a storefront with scale models of luxury yachts (they probably couldn’t fit the full-size yaughts in, ha ha) and one of those ubiquitous sandwich shops with a star logo. Several years after London I lived in the UK, and those sandwich shops were still around. The British must really like sandwiches.

We sat on a rooftop balcony and bottles of Evian seemed to aperate before us. We met a photographer named Jamie J! who had long hair, the kind Sirius Black might have if he were a hip! happening! fellow, and a similar squint to Marco Pierre White. Later googling would come to show that Jamie J! had a hit single (and only released one single). It was a cover of Walk on the Wild Side. Thereis a fantastic video which goes with  it. Jamie J! used film and had a nervous assistant who put new film into his cameras for him. He gave us each a copy of Buffalo, a book of photos from the 80s almost entirely of young attractive men. Perhaps he thought of this as his CV, because nobody else had heard of him. He said “punky funky” a lot. A few days later Jamie J took photos of us in a studio. I wore a Chanel cardigan worth too much money with the interlocking “C’s” as buttons, and big glasses.

-You look so handsome! said Elizabeth
-I mean, really? I said
-Yeah! said Elizabeth. I blushed inwardly. Elizabeth has a lot to answer for: she introduced me to Lauderee macaroons. That’s like, Big City Life, right there.

I kept the polaroids in my old violin case, along with a typewritten letter from a friend and a postcard from another friend. The polaroids made me feel less like a greasy, socially cumbersome teenager- they were like a reflection of an idealized self. A self who, obviously, could afford Chanel cardigans and big glasses.

the author, brooding and malcontent, a la Nick Cave circa Boatman's Call, circa 09

Saturday, December 27, 2014

On (failing) to ask Rei Kawakubo what her favourite book is

I had the opportunity, once, to ask Rei Kawakubo a question. My question was "what are your favourite books?" and her answer on the sheet provided (her husband translated) was written as NO ANSWER, in caps (all her answers were written in caps, because Rei Kawakubo did Kanye before Kanye). This is partially due to my incompetence as an interviewer- is "what are your favourite books?" a good question? and partially due to my star-struck-shell-shocked self at being given the chance to ask the famous Ms. Kawakubo a question. I still think "what are your favourite books?" is a good question, because it seems so harmless. Most candidates will answer one of the hundred or so 'classics' which litter best-of lists with the reassuring predictability that best-of movie lists declare Citizen Kane the best film, like, ever, even though I am quite sure the number of people who have actually seen Citizen Kane decreases with every day, as the people who have seen it progressively die off. In twenty years the best-of lists will declare Fargo to be the best film ever. They are probably right.

There are multiple possible reasons we can gleam from Ms. Kawakubo's refusal to answer: perhaps she does not even read, per se, at all, merely absorbs the content of whatever book she is interested in by some form of osmosis, and in a library is confronted by the sheer bulk of knowledge that it all blends into some ultra-book, where Joyce meets Atwood meets Mahy. Perhaps she refuses all forms of media, in order to incubate herself from outside forms of interference (a more sophisticated version of wearing a tin-foil hat). Perhaps she thought my question was stupid and pointless and not worth answering. I am certain it was the last answer.

It is a banal question, though unintentionally revealing. Yohji Yamamoto has talked about The Family of Man being one of his favourite books. Once you connect Steichen to Yamamoto, all kinds of connections begin to appear: the worn-in, 'dusty' everyday feeling Steichen captures so well. Yamamoto's coats, with their odd proportions and heavy duty fabrics take on a logic beyond their stylistic lexicon. It's as if grandpa Yohji is trying to capture the broadness of the whole world. Or as Steichen puts it: "If the human face is “the masterpiece of God” it is here then in a thousand fateful registrations."

I don't know if I knew what Yamamoto's favourite book was when I asked submitted the question. Yamamoto's answer helped me understand his clothes better; in the same way, Kawakubo's answer did too. NO ANSWER explains Kawakubo's mindset perfectly, just as Family of Man explains Yamamoto's. I should've asked what her favourite pizza was.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

post-script (or: why I stopped writing this, and is anybody still reading anyway)

It has been a long time, followers. It has been years! Partially because, as the saying goes, Life Goes On, and the less well known saying, When You Think You Are Above Writing As A 70-Something Germanic Fashion Designer. Here's the thing: I could keep writing as Karl 'til the cows come home and are turned into artisan burger patties, and for a while (several years) this bothered me, because it's like, how will you ever know the real me!(!) and it's like, does it even matter who I am? It probably doesn't. All this time I could've been the cleaning lady at the Vogue offices, writing award-winning judgements of ya'll whilst vacuuming impractical carpets and emptying dustbins full of rejected spreads. Or I could've been the guy who wrote the Fake Steve blog, and presumably that is why I've been so reticent in recent years- 'cause when the Fake Steve blog guy came forward he exploded into a pile of ashes from the sheer disinterest of his general readership.

In hindsight, writing a blog as someone other than myself was a slight misstep if I wanted to achieve the fame and glory that customarily comes with being a semi-successful fashion blogger. I was in the Yohji Yamamoto store in London some time ago, and let me tell you, they didn't get down on their knees and kotow to me! I said, "don't you know who I am? I am the great fake Karl Lagerfeld! I once was published in Elle magazine!", and immediately they presented me with a dozen boxes of roses, and within those boxes of roses were boxes of clothes Yohji's own mother made herself.

Another thing about me: I used to really love Bob Dylan. I met Tavi 'cause we talked about Bob Dylan (the big BD, BD-daddy-o) on twitter. I don't remember the last time I listened to Bob Dylan. I went to a concert of his a couple of years ago. He played baseball music when introducing his band. I know nothing about baseball, being a New Zealander, but it was the music you hear at baseball games on the TV. I don't know if they really play this at baseball games. I hope they do. Rest assured, I will defend Bob Dylan if ending up in one of those "Bob Dylan can't sing/is a shit musician" arguments (more often replaced these days with "Nicki Minaj is so terrible!") but I have not listened to his music in some time. The point of this paragraph is people change, etc. Didion would be proud.

I started this blog when I was 15 or 16 and a lonely high school student with no friends and a bad haircut. I researched like mad- satirising, developing a 'voice', does not come without reading every material one can obtain on Karl Lagerfeld. Yves Saint Laurent interested me as well- I read The Beautiful Fall and, amongst many NYT articles, it was probably the most valuable resource. Lagerfeld's interviews are a goldmine too, of course. I studied how he dressed. I emulated how he dressed. I went to a school halloween party as Lagerfeld: two girls knew who I was. Emulating Lagerfeld is hard work. It's about understanding a kind of futurist mindset- constantly moving forward- acting as a magpie of the zeitgeist.

Stopping writing regularly coincided with "graduating" (although in NZ, there is no graduating, there is merely an end) probably- this was inevitable, because when you are 'famous' (note the scare quotes) for being something other than yourself you develop a kind of complex. It's a very dull complex. It is mostly a if-I'm-so-good-at-this-people-must-like-my-other-stuff-too, which may well be true, but it is a combination of teenage arrogance and stupidity that makes one think one best do this starting from scratch all over again. It's like that novel JK Rowling wrote under another name, except nobody is dying to work out my identity and when people know that I have done x project or xx project sales are unlikely to go through the roof. I will be sincere again: I saw Rookie, which is fantastic and wonderful, and I saw people I'd known for a while, in the same 'circles' as me write on Rookie and progress from their blog-lives. I so wanted to progress. I studied to be a chef, which is totes logical in a twisted kind of way, and I was published in 'literary' magazines and my noisy band has had some success and rock critic Everett True likes us, and Everett True has a wikipedia, so. I don't recommend this move into the low-fi-junk-seafoam-noise sphere, fashion bloggers. It will make you seven dollars or so.

Incidentally, I tried to write for Rookie because, as I said before, I really like Rookie- I check it pretty regularly. This seemed like a 'moving into the persona-of-myself' move. My writing was awful. I tried too hard. It lacked the ease of Fake Karl and the tone of my short stories didn't match their tone. I 'expanded as a person', which is good, but to some degree I missed the blogging thing. I found myself living in the desert with only a very valuable samurai sword and a small bag of dried-out broad beans. I started a broad-bean plantation. Bono came to visit me. He said, "why don't you use these old songs of yours". I said, what songs? He said look to the sky, or your closet. I looked in my closet and there was nothing there. Bono said, there is no spoon, and I said, that's from The Matrix, and he said he hasn't seen Interstellar yet.

I'm going to continue blogging here, anyway. I am now twenty two (almost twenty three, golly goose). It is entirely possible I'm broadcasting to dead air- that's OK too. Hi.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Fine Tradition

I like to spend mornings in bed with a dictionary, of which I cut out all the ugly words with a small golden guillotine I have named Jean Rameu (pronounced John, of course). John Rameu and I do enjoy cutting out such words as "moist" and "spit" and "phlegm" and so on- I think of it as a kind of act of beauty for the world. If one eradicates ugly words, how can one express ugliness? Well, one can dress badly or be ugly, but it does cut down on the word pollution one can hear going into any supermarket that doesn't have a valet of it's own. When I am done I wil release the dictionary into the wild and perhaps the tongues of everybody will turn silver. It's linguistic eugenics, really.

In any case as I lay in bed with Jean Rameu and Chopette (who you will recall is my cat, of course), I was notified of the unfortunate news regarding the Italian fellows Dolce and Gabbana. Though I certainly cannot claim any affinity for their work, I did raise my perfectly formed eyebrow somewhat. Jail is for hooligans and the uncouth (though I have long contested that The Unabomber is the chicest man in prison and plan to do a ready-to-wear collection inspired by him one day- survivalist chic, if you follow). "Why are they going to prison?" I wondered, til an assistant told me they had evaded a billion dollars or so in tax. I clapped my begloved hands together, my mercury rings clinking against one another (I wear mercury so nobody can copy my rings). "Aha!" I said. "They are continuing a great tradition, hm?" I recalled my great friends the Medicis, who were fantastic art collectors and happened to be Italian also. They managed to evade all the tax. I said to Chopette "Domenico and Stefano weren't so lucky", a line that seems redundant. As I have often said, luck is a more vulgar word for nepotism, and the Italian fellows clearly did not have enough nepotism. Do you know what the secret of the Medicis was? Nepotism. I sighed a great galaxy-creating sigh and telephoned Martha Stewart, who also happens to be a more recent friend than the Medicis. I like Martha: she is tough. You must be tough to be perfect. Diamonds are tough. Marshmallows are not. I solicited some advice on behalf of the unfortunate Italians, because as I said, they aren't quite hooligans. She said to ask for the cotton jumpsuits. Fair advice, I said, inquiring whether the prison had linen jumpsuits, and which seamstress was making them?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


See, I think the best way of doing an internet blog these days is to update as little as possible, because now we are in the instant generation of all the tweeting and so on- everybody updates their blog a billion times a day- so clearly, the logical thing is not to be instant. To release an album every 20 years and have it acclaimed as a Masterstroke of Genius, for instance.

I propose a new system of the social media: the anti-twitter. I call it The Lagergraph. Various friends- mostly despicable Germans- have pointed out that it has an unfortunate connotation to the popular drink of the lower classes, "Lager". I told all of them that the Lagerfeld name is undoubtably older, and who in fashion would know of lager, anyway? Lager is what they use to advertise football with, non? Champagne is what they use to advertise fashion with. Martinis, perhaps, but generally one will find they are for ugly Washington power brokers in terribly fitting suits. Hence Lagergraph.

The idea behind Lagergraph is this: you can send a message to an assistant, who will receive your message and then place it in a safety deposit box. It will sit in the safety deposit box- and I can assure you that the safety deposit box is well-made by artistans who previously made deposit boxes for Dictators in Questionable Positions (I believe some are even still living in said safety deposit boxes)- and then, after a period of time- perhaps two years, perhaps five years, they will tie the message onto the back of a pigeon who will carry it to the recipient. Is the recipient twitter? Then it will give it to twitter! Is the recipient to an email? It will give it to the email! So simple, hm? Yet so perfect.

The future is not fast. The future is slow. Slow is the new fast. The future is The Lagergraph.