The legendary designer Karl Lagerfeld shares his thoughts about his latest must-have creation: a haute couture teddy bear made in his likeness.
Karl Lagerfeld, the multitalented designer, photographer, bookstore owner and collector has added an extra string to his bow. In collaboration with another German institution, the historic toy brand Steiff that created the first moveable Teddy bear in 1903, Lagerfeld has designed a Teddy bear in his likeness.
Made from the finest alpaca wool, the Karl Lagerfeld bear is dressed appropriately in Lagerfeld's signature uniform: K Karl Lagerfeld collection lacquered jeans, wool jacket, black silk tie raised with a tie rack, and a striped poplin shirt matched with a high collar. Accessories on the 40cm tall bear include 'trompe l'oeil' buttoning, black sunglasses by Karl Lagerfeld Eyewear and a belt with Swarovski crystal studded KL buckle. The result is a true 'mini me' of haute couture quality.
Produced in a limited edition of just 2,500, the Steiff bear is available to buy from selected luxury boutiques and toy stores around the world, including Colette in Paris and Neiman Marcus in the USA.
In an amusing interview that reveals his candidness and sense of fun, Karl Lagerfeld explains his thoughts about Teddy bears and how this latest project came about.
How do you explain that a man like yourself, Karl, still refuses to give up his teddy bear?
I very much like animals. Above all when they are stuffed with cotton or plastic! It is the best way to be sure that they do not bite, eat, smell badly or mess with your things. After all, I am here to not only save species but brands.
Was it your idea to collaborate with Steiff on a teddy bear made in your likeness?
Even if I seem to be unapproachable, please know that in general people come to me and not the opposite.
If I follow you, then it was Steiff that made the first move?
They above all contacted my very devoted director of communication, Caroline. Me, one cannot call me. One must go through the nurse in order to see the baby.
Seriously, were you immediately taken by the idea?
Instantly. It is everything that I love. I have already lent my likeness to a lead character and to video games. Thus, why not to a teddy bear?
Were you familiar with Steiff teddy bears when you were in the prime of your youth, in your German cradle?
In Germany, we are all born with a Steiff teddy bear. I had one, without a doubt, when I was very young. Which only lasted for a while. You know, I did not stay a child for a long time, either.
Though I would have imagined you more with dolls than teddy bears, like all young self-respecting designers.
My god. I have a profound horror of dolls. They scare me. All near-perfect replicas of the human form fill me with terror. With animals, it is different. A pretty teddy bear, a good dog, are the same thing; it sleeps all the time and does not bother anyone.
A teddy bear in your own likeness: might you not be a bit narcissistic, Mr. Lagerfeld?
I am only interested in myself and my own reflection. I am an itinerant caricature who adapts to many frameworks and situations. I am a sort of Charlie Chaplin of today.
Were you not a bit of a teddy bear yourself, before having lost all that weight?
The only slight difference was that I was never anyone's toy – a small nuance.
Did you follow every step of the teddy bear's creation?
I am not Dr. Frankenstein, I do not lend myself to vivisection, so, no, I did not go and watch the assembly of the creature up close. I did, however, supervise the entirety of the clothing fittings at our Parisian studios, where we have a studio director named Anita who is an expert in miniature ready-to-wear.
Why are teddy bears invariably asexual?
Without doubt, it is for the good and simple reason that parents do not want their offspring to have fun too early in life. It is like the comic book from Hamburg in which the small Erna goes to the candy shop and asks for a chocolate doll. The clerk responds thus: "Would you prefer a little boy or a little girl?" And Erna replies, "A little boy... there is more chocolate!"
Don't your enemies risk fiercely attacking your poor, defenseless teddy bear, sticking him with needles like voodoo witches?
It does not matter to me. I have already been transformed into a lead soldier, and I did not waste time worrying if my enemies were going to send me to the gunfire at the front. In any case, black magic could not do much to me. I sold my soul to the Devil ages ago.
Have you ever been someone soft and cuddly, like your teddy bear?
Not at all. Yet do not be deceived: teddy bears never make the first move, either. The impulse always comes from the owner. You follow me? If you are not soft and cuddly with your teddy bear, there is no chance that he will reciprocate. Or rather, it
is no longer a teddy bear, but a robot.
Do you sleep with your teddy bear?
I sleep alone facing myself. Which is the same thing, since the teddy bear is made in my likeness.