Lessons from Karl Lagerfeld on How NOT to Treat People

In these photos, I’m wearing a Karl Lagerfeld 1980s vintage Chanel dress from Another Man’s Treasure in Jersey City.

Karl Lagerfeld was the man behind Chanel, the most iconic fashion brand in history. He was a brilliant, creative genius. Let’s be honest, he’s a legend. He passed away on February 19th, 2019. Most often, when people mourn a death, it’s positive. It’s sad anytime anyone dies, especially such an iconic figured that had a global impact on millions of people. But we must also acknowledge the negative and harmful impact he had on many of those millions of people.

Some mourners are heart broken that he left this world too soon and they’re paying homage. On the flip side, there are some people angry and downright disgusted with him. Both views can be right because it’s based on the personal experience people had with him.

He had a huge impact on the way women dress but he also had an ugly pattern of cruel and nasty comments, which was paradoxical because the garments he made were so beautiful. If he made a few off handed comments here or there, sure, we could forgive him. His minsogynst, racist, Islamophobic, and sexist comments were constant and in your face. It was something you couldn’t ignore, it was who he was.

It’s hard for some to accept his less pleasant elements of his personality. If we want to reshape the fashion industry into a healthier more inclusive place, we can’t dismiss the parts about this man that we didn’t like. We can learn what not to do from Karl Lagerfeld to make this world a better place.

Okay, so what did Karl Lagerfeld do that was so bad?

One day, I’ll most likely buy myself a Chanel bag. But I’m one of the mourners who are downright angry and disgusted with him. I will appreciate, respect and celebrate his contributions in the way we dress, as his designs were not reflective of his cruel, fat-phobic, toxic misogynist, racist, and downright nasty attitude.

When I heard Karl Lagerfeld state in an interview “No one wants to see curvy women,” I was flabbergasted. And I was angry. How dare he speak for everyone else. I mean, the majority of men that I know would strongly disagree. He had such a worldly impact so I was angry he was spreading such a hateful message. I know people would hear this and believe it as their own thoughts, because that’s what kind of influence he had on people.

He didn’t make clothing for larger women (larger than his standard 0 or 2 runway model), because he didn’t want larger women wearing them. He refused to hire them as well for his shows and print campaigns because he didn’t think people wanted to see them. His ideals of women were narrow and once stated that fashion was “the healthiest motivation to lose weight.” He also castigated potential celebrity clients, like Adele, stating “she’s a little too fat.” My guess is that she wasn’t able to wear Chanel to events or red carpets, even if she wanted to.

It wasn’t as if Karl Lagerfeld was quiet about his personal opinions on people who he once looked like (he lost 90lbs back in the early 2000s). He was open about his disdain for curvy and fat people. Karl determined that Chanel bags were synonymous with wealth. He also determined:

Wealth + Status = Not Fat

In my opinion, the blatant and offensive thoughts about women’s bodies have been the beliefs of the fashion industry and many designers for years. He’s the only one who had the balls to say it out loud. It’s an industry wide problem, not just a Karl Lagerfeld problem. We cannot allow the same characteristics of other iconic and influential people to prosper again. We’ll be stuck in a severely unhealthy, non inclusive and narrow minded world. We’re better than that! Well, my hope is that we can be.

His comments contributed to an unhealthy idea of how us women should look and be treated. This ain’t it!!!!!!!! There were probably so many people severely harmed by him and his comments. I just can’t help but think of a saying my mother taught us when we were kids;

“If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” – Mom

I mean, this is like ‘How to be Kind and a Nice Human Being 101‘ and it sounds like Karl Lagerfeld never learned this lesson from his Momma. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to be nice and kind. It takes more effort to be cruel. He abused his power and has negatively effected women all over the world. Let’s continue on a path of positivity, love and more inclusivity for women of all shapes and sizes for the years to come. We’ve made strides and are on the right path…let’s keep it going! We have a long way to go, but we can get there!

Photograher: Julian Dicampo