K ARL AND K RISTEN COCO ‘Once and Forever’, Karl Lagerfeld’s latest film, is equally cheeky and chic. Laura Brown recounts her surprise casting. Photographed by Olivier Saillant.
The call came early – 4am, in fact. Out of the sensory blur came the tinkling French accent of a photo producer who works with Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel. “Karl is making a movie,” she said. “And he would love you to be in it. Playing a journalist. You’d need to get on a flight to Paris tonight and go straight to set tomorrow morning. What do you think?” Um, let me think about that, oui. Like I wouldn’t. Like anyone wouldn’t. Having had the privilege of relatively recent entry into Karl’s orbit, I’d quite honestly fly to Paris to clean out his fridge and recycle his Diet Coke bottles. But as anyone who is a fan of Chanel and the man behind it knows, the madly prolific Lagerfeld – in between producing eight annual Chanel collections (often shown in exotic, far-flung locales), five for Fendi, and his own collection; shooting Chanel and Fendi campaigns, magazine covers, and fashion sessions; sketching; painting; and generally being the smartest man in the room – also likes to make movies.
Well, short films. But short films with a grand story – the story of Chanel. “The idea is this,” Lagerfeld explains about his latest, titled Once and Forever. “The final image of Chanel is not her youth, her lovers, her beauty – it’s the old lady.” While Chanel’s life and lovers are storied (her most famed, Boy Capel, died tragically in a car accident in 1919), he is, of course, absolutely right. The popular vision of Coco is not her great beauty, her Deauville stripes; it’s the old woman, in pearls and a hat. “It’s a visual impact you cannot miss,” he continues. “People who know the history of fashion know, but the public doesn’t see the woman, who she really was. That’s the story of the movie.”
Kristen Stewart, already in character, as Karl Lagerfeld coaches