Friday, 19 March 2010


Back in 2002, during the Couture week in July, my then boyfriend A. received a phone call from his agency, with a last minute booking: Harper's Bazar US Haute Couture shoot by Karl Lagerfeld at his place. He needed to bring at least two assistants because it would be a shoot with many models partying in the latest Haute Couture dresses. While very last minute, friend S. and I accompanied A. as his assistants. Karl's place was an 18th century hôtel particulier with a garden as big as the Luxembourg Gardens (not quite, but yes, enormous), owned by a French aristocratic family, at la rue de l'Université on the left bank of Paris in the 7th arrondissement (After 30 years he recently swapped it for a loft along the Seine, just around the corner). We were asked to dress up in black because of the party setting, and so in a black lace A-line skirt with side fringes, that actually used to be some widow-style wrap-around I once bought at a market in Greece, combined with a black velvet short sleeved Chloé top, dark brown ultra high, ultra thin Fendi heels, and my self cut mohawk (don't ask!), I tried to wiggle my way through the cobblestoned courtyard, without breaking my heels. We had to climb  a few steps before entering the hallway, where we were politely welcomed by servants dressed in black and white. Their outfits perfectly matched with the black and white marble square tiles, that covered the hall way floor. A quite impressive white marble staircase on the right, led people to the first floor. On the left and opposite the entrance, grotesque framed doors, common in 18th century buildings, opened up to a ball room, where the pictures would be taken and a smaller room where the bar was set, and cosmopolitans and champaign were already flowing. In the centre of the hallway stood a vase filled with an enormous  bouquet of white lilies. After a  friendly "hello we're here for the shoot", we were sent upstairs to what seemed to be the dining room (which it probably  wasn't) to join the team. Hair and make-up tools and food plates were spread over several modern dinner tables in  dark wood. The walls were covered with numerous mirrors in modern frames of the same wood as the tables. The  mirrors looked vintage with black little marks and scratches you normally see on antique mirrors... Models like  Jacquetta Wheeler and Maria Carla Bosconi were getting prepped by Tom Pecheux and Odile Gilbert. Actrice and Chanel ambassador Anna Mouglalis asked shyly if she needed a manicure, and Lady Harlow came up in the most stunning Chanel outfit (I remember an incredible white collar...). Assistants of the fashion director of Harper's Bazar, were busy ironing the last pieces and Karl was nowhere to be seen. S. and I went downstairs for some drinks at the bar, where socialites in couture were sitting at  little round tables. The young and then very insecure Paris Hilton was sitting at one with her sister Nicky  and her brother. She looked utterly uncomfortable. Male servants in white overcoats and black  trousers were standing in every possible corner holding a tiny silver tray with one glass of dark brown liquid,  which I learned later, was coke light for the Kaiser. When we went to the ladies room, standing there waiting,  Karl him self came out of a little side door and stood just 2 centimeters from me, getting a suit out of a  closet. He looked friendly at S. and me, and said hello. Moments after, Carine Roitfeld stopped by with Emmanuelle  Alt and her then 18 year old son Vladimir, who was cast as one of the male models. She looked at me, scanned my outfit, then nodded and smiled at me. Later that evening I heard that she actually liked my style (read: crazy mohawk with feminine clothes  and killer heels). The evening ended up more as a party then work, were I, entre autre, danced with Puff Diddy who  also stopped by. Models, and older socialites, dance coaches (a dance couple was especially flown in from New York for the occasion), aristocrats, celebrities, everybody was dancing and having a good time. Most of them dressed up in ridiculous expensive couture outfits. Model Natasa Vojnovic took the microphone of the band and started performing. Karl and his assistants were shooting away, taking numerous pictures of the party crowd. At one  point Karl grabbed the disposable camera of S. and photographed Jacquetta with it (S. lost the camera, naturally...). After the shoot, when the team went clearing everything up in the room upstairs, Karl joined us and seemed to be  amused by the probably very silly behavior of those, who drank to  many of the bubbles...(no, I'm not going to mention any names here). He listened to the laughter, the jokes and the noise. He seemed curious, friendly and approachable. But maybe that was, because it was Chez Lui...

The HARPER's BAZAR shoot:

                                                            CLICK HERE for recent interview with Karl Lagerfeld @ viceland:                      


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