Mar 9, 2007

Fashion films celebrate reclusive kings of couture

BERLIN (Reuters) - Two French documentaries feting the lives of reclusive designers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld shore up the myths that surround their subjects but shed little light on the men behind the fashions.

Fawning celebrities, strutting models and square-jawed assistants feature in Rodolphe Marconi's "Lagerfeld Confidential", lending a dose of glamour to the proceedings at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

"It is a reflection of me, a reflection of what I wanted to show about myself," Lagerfeld told reporters after the film premiere, adding, however, that he had nothing to do with the editing of the film. Director Marconi, who first met Lagerfeld in a bar, reduced 150 hours of material shot over two years into an 88-minute feature. The result seems like a glossy fashion commercial.

Clad in trademark dark glasses with his gray pony-tail bobbing above his starched collars, Lagerfeld comes across as a humorous eccentric who survives on his wits alone.

From a liberal family in northern Germany, he decamped to Paris in 1953 and became a fashion czar credited with reviving the venerable couture house Chanel in the 1980s.

In the film, he jets between his various houses and to photoshoots with top models and actors like Nicole Kidman. He never leaves home without one of his arsenal of iPods or the velvet comforter cushion his nanny gave him as a child.

ut Lagerfeld, who appears to perpetually reinvent himself as fashions change, warned viewers that he'd already moved on.

"This film is from a particular time and today I am already someone else," he told reporters. "I am a puppet in my own hands.

MUTED CELEBRATION

While Lagerfeld claims not to dwell on yesterday, his one-time friend Yves Saint Laurent seems trapped in the past.
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Another premiere, "Celebration", shows a chain smoking and virtually monosyllabic Saint Laurent, apparently terrorized by anxiety and the fear of public scorn for his collections.

Saint Laurent never acknowledges the camera and is often show in black-and-white footage, making him appear isolated from the color of his creations in the rest of the film.

Director Olivier Meyrou focuses on the complex relationship between Saint Laurent and his business partner, Pierre Berge, a former lover who helped make the YSL couture house one of the most respected in the world during their 40-year collaboration.

Their atelier at 5 Ave Marceau in Paris closed in 2002 when Saint Laurent announced his retirement, an event which Meyrou says marked the end of an era for French couture.

"Karl Lagerfeld and Yves Saint Laurent were friends in the 1960s and in many ways they are very similar," Meyrou told reporters after a screening of his film.

"They are both seeking immortality but in two very different ways. Lagerfeld is much more rooted in life but Yves Saint Laurent is more someone who withdraws inside himself." [source]

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