I hope you had a great week since we last “met” here on my blog a week ago. I look forward to reading your comments at the end of my blogs. And I try to share with you things that matter to me, I discover, or that I’m doing or care about, or people that I meet whom I find interesting. It’s a peaceful moment in my week when I chat with you.
I will confess to you as I write to you this week that I am very sad. The world lost a true genius last week, a truly extraordinary man of immense talent. Four weeks ago, I wrote to you about the Chanel Haute Couture fashion show in Paris, which I’ve often written to you about before. I go to that show twice a year faithfully, and to the Chanel ready to wear show once a year. It’s usually the only fashion show I go to, and it’s always a thrill. I mentioned to you in my blog afterwards that Karl Lagerfeld the designer for Chanel of the past 35 or so years, always appeared after the show to take a bow, and this time, for the first time, an announcer said after the show that Mr. Lagerfeld was “tired’, and sent us all his greetings. He was of a considerable age (85), somewhat frail by now, and frankly, his schedule would have left any of us not just tired, but exhausted. He designed all the Chanel ready to wear collections, which are larger than any other brand, and the Haute Couture collection—-all of that would be work for ten men, not just one. At the same time, he was the designer for Fendi, had his own brand, was an avid and talented photographer, produced some films, wrote some books. He lived life to the fullest, and expressed his HUGE talent in countless ways, right to the very end. He wore a white pony tail with a black ribbon as in the ‘Olden days”, high starched collars, tail coats, he was a legend, a Huge Persona, a genius, and truly an icon of the fashion world. His not appearing for his bow after the show seemed worrisome and even ominous to everyone at the show when they made the announcement, and everyone filed out in total silence, saying not a word, as it occurred to each of us that one day Karl would no longer be here. It seemed unimaginable, and we all hoped that he would be back in good form soon. And now, four weeks later, he is gone.
As an aside, it has been a hard, odd winter. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of so many people I know who died as in the past few months, people of all ages, which makes you stop and think. I had a huge loss last summer when my beloved friend Hubert de Givenchy, the famous fashion designer, passed away at 91. As sad as I was, and I was very sad, he was a wonderful friend and also an immense talent and a truly lovely, lovely person, a great and noble man—–somehow at 91, I can almost accept that that is the way of life and the world, and if they led a full life, it’s almost tolerable. Shortly after, last summer, I lost a beloved brother in law, who had been my big brother since I was 16, but he was much older than I, well into his eighties, so again, I accepted the hand fate dealt. In September, a really lovely friend, full of life and vital, and also a remarkable human being, fell ill for a short time, and was given a medication which gave him cardiac arrest from a reaction and he died at 62. Shocking. I was reeling from that. And as winter came, a friend lost her father, another friend lost his amazingly perky adorable 107 year old grandmother—-again at that age, it’s hard to argue about it. And I heard of others whom I knew, but not that well. And then suddenly over Christmas a great friend passed away, also in his 80’s, and then a couple I know died in a tragic accident at Christmas—-one of those dreadful things you read about that should never happen, their Christmas tree caught fire 2 days before Christmas, they were trapped in the blaze, and died in the fire, a true tragedy. And then only weeks later, I was told that two of my San Francisco neighbors had died, one at 64, the other at 76. In today’s world of modern medicine and great health care, people live so much longer that a death at 60 shocks us, and in someone’s 70’s seems premature. And so many people are vital and still involved in life in their 80’s (I know so many creative people still working full steam ahead in their 80’s), that that shocks me a bit too. And I was notified last week that Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy’s sister, died too. Too many people. And now Karl, which is a huge blow to the world of fashion, and the world.
Karl Lagerfeld was truly one of the most talented people I have ever known. He had a genius for fashion, a great eye, a touch of humor, he didn’t take it too seriously, he was a commercial genius, an artist, an icon, a legend. Truly, he was a HUGE persona, he left a mark on fashion that will last forever, like Coco Chanel, and Christian Dior and Yves Saint Laurent and Cristobal Balenciaga.
What always impressed me about him was his enormous energy. Designers groan at cranking out 2 to 4 collections a year. He did 6 or 7 a year, or even 8, AND another brand, Fendi, and his own brand, was a serious photographer, active, busy, always creating. I cannot believe that that incredible life force and creative tornado is gone. It can’t be.
I have met a few legendary people in my time, and he is truly one of them. He was always kind to me whenever I met him, though he could be funny and ironic. I admire his genius with fashion, and his wit about it, along with his huge talent. He had fun with it, and made it fun for those who wore it. I don’t think there will ever be another designer like him. And along with his talent, I admired his work ethic. He was going 200 mph right to the end. What an extraordinary life, and extraordinary man.
Although whatever talent I have does not compare to his, I work hard too. Too hard sometimes. As he did, I work all the time. The result so far is 176 books. Now that my kids are grown up, I write constantly. When my kids were younger, I always took their school vacations off work, and never worked on weekends. Now that they’re grown up and I’m alone, I work constantly. And I will share with you that I think working is wonderful, (I don’t believe in retirement for anyone!!), but Karl’s passing reminded me that you have to live life too. No matter how hard working or talented, one day it is all over. And one has to LIVE life to the fullest, and enjoy each second.
I will include a link here to a very good article about him, but when I heard the sad news about him, it really made me think, and reminded me that we need to work, and we also need to LIVE.
So my message to you today is Do. Be. Think. Act. Give. Love. Work. Try. And live life to the fullest.
And I love this quote of Karl’s, it kind of says it all about him. “There is no secret to life. The only secret is work. Get your act together, and also perhaps, have a decent life.” My promise to myself is to continue to work hard, create, write books, love my children, spend as much time with them as they have to give me, and remember to have fun. It matters.
Karl will be remembered forever as the giant he was, and I am blessed to have known him. We weren’t close friends, but I was honored to have met him many times, to have seen so many of his shows, and to have known a genius. And I love the example that he set with a full, creative, productive life, working hard to the end. What a legacy he left us.
Have a great week, do fun things, work hard, and enjoy every minute!!!