Lagerfeld Confidential

Docu "Lagerfeld Confidential," about designer Karl Lagerfeld, feels like a film that's been ghost edited by its own subject. Lagerfeld is seen here at work and leisure, and responding with insouciant but circumspect candor to helmer-lenser-soundman Rodolphe Marconi's polite questions about his private life.

With:
With: Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann. French, English dialogue

Docu “Lagerfeld Confidential,” about designer Karl Lagerfeld, feels like a film that’s been ghost edited by its own subject. Lagerfeld, a little queenly but full of pithy quips, is seen here at work and leisure, and responding with insouciant but circumspect candor to helmer-lenser-soundman Rodolphe Marconi’s polite questions about his private life. Pic never delves any deeper than superficialities, but that shouldn’t stop this from finding distribs and cablers, especially in Gaul, keen to tap into auds’ rising fascination with all things fashion, demonstrated by success of series such as “Project Runway” and “America’s Next Top Model.”

Per press notes, pic was two years in the making and honed out of 200 hours of digital and Super8 footage. However, that doesn’t mean one feels like helmer and sometime thesp Marconi (who directed “This Is My Body,” “Love Forbidden” and “The Last Day”) was allowed anything but highly mediated access to his subject. This is Lagerfeld’s show, a point made in the very first scene where Marconi off camera shyly requests permission to film round Lagerfeld’s Parisian bedroom.

Docu and feels like an episodic series of undated vignettes rather than an arching narrative. The perpetually pony-tailed designer, who as the head designer at Chanel reps one of the most powerful figures in the biz, is observed preparing and running catwalk shows, sketching designs for dresses, taking photographs of models and Nicole Kidman (who’s not interviewed) and generally interacting regally with an endless procession of slightly nervous looking underlings.

Snippets from a face-to-face sitdown interview with Marconi are interspersed throughout, in which Lagerfeld talks about his formidable-sounding mother, his love life (but not in much detail) and more general views. He’s amusingly wry and unsentimental about his industry, noting at one point that he rose to the top by dint of luck and hard work. Other, more talented designers didn’t, but then that’s just because “fashion is ephemeral, dangerous and unfair,” and he admits without embarrassment that he likes designing things but the detests the hard work involved in actually making stuff.

Even allowing for the fact that docu is the cinematic version of a monarch’s state portrait, any sense of what makes Lagerfeld important and unique as a designer and visionary is largely missing. There’s a clip of Vogue editor Anna Wintour gushing about his brilliance, but hardly any of Lagerfeld’s peers (perhaps he doesn’t think he has any?) or other artists are interviewed. Heaven forbid the doc should interview any of Lagerfeld’s enemies or sterner critics, whose number are legion.

Even so, the more general aud and fashionphiles this has been made for will enjoy the well-made result well enough. Tech package is pro, with the transfer to 35mm from digital looking particularly smooth here.

Lagerfeld Confidential

France

Production: A Realitism Films production, in association with Backup Films. (International sales: Films Distribution, Paris.) Produced by Gregory Bernard. Directed, written by Rodolphe Marconi.

Crew: Camera (color, DV and Super8-to-35mm), Marconi; sound (DTS), Marconi. Reviewed at Berlin Film Festival (Panorama Dokumente), Feb. 9, 2007. Running time: 89 MIN.

With: With: Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Nicole Kidman, Baz Luhrmann. French, English dialogue

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