On the Town with Shinan: Spending time in Toronto with a unicorn of fashion, Karl Lagerfeld

By Shinan Govani

It felt, at one moment, like a crowded Moroccan souk, with various peddlers and their wares, the mob of people moving through the room as if in a caravan. Much nudging. Some heavy breathing. Phones held up like candles in the wind.

Karl Lagerfeld sure knows how to make an entrance, and he did just that when he arrived looking every bit like a Karl-bot come to life, icons always having the quality of looking like an extra-animated version of themselves. The Toronto party, held in his honour on Wednesday – the first time that Mr. Lagerfeld has stepped foot in Canada – was held near Yonge and Eglinton, a nabe that's sometimes referred to as 'Young and Eligible,' but on this night had officially morphed into 'Yonge and Electrifying.'

“I love you!” cried one girl-about-town (a fashionable naturopath) to Karl, the darks of his sunglasses reflecting all the Instagram'ing devotees. “I love you too,” he said back, calmly, in his neo-German accent. Another worshipper pushed a Chanel clutch in front of his face, nudging him to sign the inside of it. The A-grade designer did as he was told.

Acting as both human buffer and usher, snaking his way through the room at the Art Shoppe Loft & Condos, was Sebastien Jondeau, Karl's bodyguard. The former solider and sometimes model who's Vogue Hommes-hot and famously stays fit by kickboxing? Yes, that bodyguard! In an interview, not long ago, Sebastian explained that the key to being a bodyguard is that “you need to be at peace with yourself, because if you are at war with the world and you have something to prove, you might kill someone. And that is no good."

CLICK THE PHOTO FOR MORE IMAGES OF KARL IN TORONTO:

There were no known casualties at this particular party – save moi, perhaps. I died! – as Rachel Zoe might very well put it – when I came face-to-face with Karl, sitting down with him in a back room. Having come to town to promote the luxe lobby he's designing for the building we were in, courtesy of Freed Developments and CD Capital Developments, he talked passionately about the project, but also entertained a wide variety of topics. His views on organized religion, his hatred of boredom, his contempt for all hot beverages, his love of Jessica Chastain, his German-ness, his dream-life and his cat Choupette being just some of the topics we covered. As a journalist, it occurred to me that the eighty-something visionary – who famously still produces 17 collections a year - is nothing if not a dream subject because you have to do so little peddling, let's just say. Before you've even had a chance to ask your question, he's off, in tangents here and there, sometimes even answering his own questions. All one needs to do is sit back and enjoy the show.

Realizing while I was sitting with him that he is one of the last living greats – just consider the fact that Karl was a contemporary of the gone-for-a-while Yves Saint Laurent – it almost kind of felt like I was interviewing a unicorn. And while you will have to wait for an upcoming issue of Hello! Canada to get the fuller scope of our conversation – I will be featuring him in my 'Last Word' column – I did manage to extract an interesting tidbit from him about the upcoming Zoolander sequel, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson.

“I don't want to be in the movie!” he told me forcefully, and out of the blue, at one point. “They wanted me to be in the movie!”

Ok, why not?

Turns out Karl wasn't exactly a fan of the now-famous Zoolander stunt that happened on the Valentino catwalk during the most recent Paris Fashion Week. “I didn't like it,” he sniffs. “I'm not an actor,” he adds.

And, now you know. Long live the philosopher king of the runway!

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