Karl Lagerfeld’s Ex-Employee Calls Karl an ‘Unbelievable Narcissist’

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Photo: Everett Bogue; Photos: Getty
Images, istockphoto, courtesy of Pepsi

Karl Lagerfeld's ex-assistant Arnaud Maillard wrote a tell-all book about his experience working for the Kaiser. Apparently, the designer is — and this may come as a shock — a bit of a diva. Why the big reveal? Well, Maillard's been jobless since Karl dismissed him. He says in 2005 he told the Kaiser he wanted to work at Céline, but the Kaiser didn't want him to go. But then Karl fired him anyway after the position was no longer available. Arnaud claims he harbors nothing but respect for his ex-boss, but "after everything that happened to me, I wanted to describe another side of Karl." Like how he uses the world's most expensive body cream from La Prairie twice a day, making sure to even apply it between his toes. But there's more:

The high-maintenance behavior doesn't stop with lotion.

He's an unbelievable narcissist. He needs an eternity to get ready in the morning. He takes photos of himself at every photo shoot and puts them everywhere. He surrounds himself with a kind of royal court, nobody disagrees with him. Wherever he goes, there is Pepsi-Cola in a Baccarat crystal glass waiting for him and it gets replaced every 30 minutes. It's like the 18th century.

He's hot and he's cold.

It goes beyond that. He dumps people at the drop of a dime. Lagerfeld employees have to be available 24 hours a day. He can be very generous. When I was looking for my first apartment in Paris, he discreetly slipped me an envelope that made it possible to afford. But he can also be merciless. I've seen him simply stop talking to people, stop acknowledging their existence. In the fashion industry, nobody raises their voice; they say the worst things in a very polite tone.

He only spent a day designing his H&M collection and kept all the money for himself.

I still remember how Karl sent me the first sketches for the H&M collection under extreme time pressure. Our team worked day and night for three months on the collection, but never saw any extra pay. I can remember well the two half-days that Karl worked on the drafts. Then he got millions from the Swedes.

He might be nervous about this book.

At first, he made fun of the fact that I was writing a book. Later, he tried to prevent certain passages from being published — for example, the chapter about his tax debt. My publisher refused and since then he has acted as if he never read it.

In a travesty of the publishing industry, Merci Karl is currently only available in French and German. So write to your congressperson.

'An Unbelievable Narcissist' [Spiegel Online]