In their own words
Filmmaker Rodolphe Marconi discusses his new documentary about the enigmatic fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld
‘For several years I’ve wanted to make an intimate film portrait of someone who I found fascinating and funny, and I thought the designer Karl Lagerfeld, who has had an exceptional life, would fit the bill. I asked his press representative if it would be possible to make a film about him, knowing that down the years a lot of people had asked and had been refused. I met Karl for lunch, and we started talking about fashion and clothes and actors and actresses. I explained that I didn’t have a fixed idea of what the film should contain, and that I wanted to follow him around in his everyday life, and he generously accepted.
‘I filmed Karl over a two-year period, beginning in September 2004. Usually I make feature films with actors and a script and there are a hundred people on the set. Making Lagerfeld Confidential was a very different experience, because I was there to shoot whatever he was doing. I didn’t have to tell him what to do; I had to be his shadow. I shot him in his homes in Paris and Biarritz, at Chanel, at his photography studio, in his car, in the street and in restaurants. What was interesting was that he didn’t seem to behave differently whether or not I was filming. He dresses in the same chic, elegant way whether he’s at home on a Sunday or going to work or a party.
‘I spent a year editing the 200 hours of footage I’d shot. I wanted the audience to feel like I had when I was making the film, that they were accompanying Karl, at a time when he realises that he is not eternal and he seems ready to confide.
‘Karl didn’t come to any of the editing. I showed him the finished film and I was very surprised, because he didn’t ask for anything to be changed. I think the tenderness and the human side of his character will surprise viewers. He is somebody who wants to keep his own liberty and he keeps a certain distance, even from those around him. Maybe some people will find that the film is too cool towards Karl, but it’s how I saw him.’
Lagerfeld Confidential, selected release from Fri 26 Oct.