Karl Lagerfeld, arguably the world's most famous living fashion designer, will be moving onto my block in New York as soon as his condo is ready -- but we're not exactly dropping by for Sunday brunch yet. In the meantime, my esteemed colleague at Blingdom of God and I settled for attending "Sunday with the Magazine," a New York Times event at which various writers and editors were paired with their subjects for interviews lite.
Karl was joined by NYT fashion critic Cathy Horyn and T magazine style editor Stefano Tonchi for a pleasant chat about life, fashion, and a life in fashion. I predicted that if I waited long enough during the general Q&A, someone would ask the Counterfeit Chic question -- and I was not disappointed by either the audience or the answer.
Counterfeit Chic has in the past described Karl's -- and the house of Chanel's -- changing attitudes with respect to copying and the information technologies that facilitate it. At today's event, the proud papa of a podcast from the spring show of his eponymous line was all about embracing the new (though he didn't seem to think much of blogging).
When it came to copying, the Kaiser offered the socially acceptable response, "It is a compliment." (This is apparently a designer's equivalent of opening a hideous gift, smiling, and saying, "Oh, you shouldn't have!" Nearly everyone who is knocked off claims to be flattered -- just prior to calling a lawyer.) Karl Lagerfeld didn't just leave it at that, however. He added, "The people who buy a copy wouldn't buy the original anyway" -- a controversial statement in itself -- and then offered a verbal slap on the wrist to copyists, who "should make some effort."
Karl concluded his response to the copycat query by saying, "If on another price level they do it, it's a compliment." This once again reflects the norms of the industry, which has historically expected greater creativity at higher price points, from haute couture down to mass market. As the designer himself noted in response to another question, though, good (and bad) design today exists at all price points.
In other words, Karl may not mind being knocked off by H&M -- unless, of course, he does it himself first.
And for those who belive that the devil is in the details: