“When I took over Chanel, everyone said to me: ‘Don’t do it. Stay away. It’s dead. It’s damaged goods.‘ This hype of reanimating old labels came later on,” confesses Karl Lagerfeld in the new documentary Fashion as a Religion, conceived by German film producer and long-time friend of the designer, Martina Neuen.
Needless to say, Lagerfeld’s former advisors couldn’t have been more wrong. With this statement from Lagerfeld, Neuen builds the guiding thread of her documentary, which tells the story of how Chanel not only became a true fashion empire under the creative guidance of Karl Lagerfeld, but also how the designer himself evolved into a veritable fashion and business icon.
“It’s hard to fit all the things I experienced with Karl Lagerfeld into a couple sentences,” explained Martina Neuen exclusively to Style.com/Arabia. “We travelled around the world to places like Singapore, New York, London, Paris, Hamburg, and Berlin. Karl let us have a look behind the curtains and took us along to his fashion shows, photo shoots, and store openings. We followed him everywhere. And what we saw and the things we experienced are just too much to tell in a short period of time, which is exactly why people should watch the documentary.”
And, indeed, the documentary is everything but short. Over the course of four hours, Neuen retells her 18-month-long experience with “King Karl” during which time she also met his muses and closest friends, including top models, Claudia Schiffer, Linda Evangelista, Inès de la Fressange, and Milla Jovovich. “In 2005, I started covering fashion shows regularly. That was the beginning of what was to become a strong working relationship with Karl. At some point he began recognizing me and calling me ‘The Virgin of Neuss’ because I was born in Neuss. We have built a relationship on trust,” added the film producer.
But as suggested by its title, the feature also reveals Lagerfeld’s spiritual side. “Fate is fate, and you have to accept that,” states the designer in front of Neuen’s lens. “The peak of luxury is the immunity of having to ask too many questions. Good always triumphs in the end. Things are never as bad as you think. Those are the principles, with which I was raised. The meaning of life is life itself.“
The German original version will air on the VOX channel, on September 7th, at 8:15pm. An English-language version of Karl Lagerfeld – Fashion as a Religion will soon be announced on the channel’s website.