PARIS--Sure, fashion week is creeping up on us at full-speed. Sure, this is the capital of haute couture. But does this make it okay for a national newspaper to dedicate a full day to a designer?
The entire issue bears his mark, from illustrations to comments, to special interviews of him, and an opinion page about the designer. Indeed, Karl will be Karl: the front page of the paper, printed on a larger format for the occasion, bears a full body self-portrait of the famous silhouette--along with the slogan “Karl Lagerfeld gives ‘Libé’ a makeover.” Below, a note from the real editor, Laurent Joffrin, states that the designer “has a profound culture, and a sharp eye” in an almost self-justifying tone.
The following two pages are in-depth interviews of the guest editor, discussing his passion for literature, as well as “the kingdom” he has built.
The rest of the paper is left to daily news stories--all of which are illustrated by Karl’s fashion-o-licious drawings, ranging from portraits of Afghan men to Angela Merkel or Liliane Bettencourt. The icing on the cake is surely his visual interpretation of the world cup, depicting erotic portraits of football players (enough to enrage macho football fans, and put them off fashion forever.)
The newspaper--a collector's item--is printed in a limited, 160,000 copies--and is gathering shocked gazes in cafés and kiosks all over the capital.
Yes, Karl is a man of many skills, and has, in the past, made headlines for film-directing, picture-taking, diet book-publishing, and curve-insulting. And yes, he is an eternal source of fascination to many.
But is his editorial frolicking fit for daily news? Or is his blatant potential to bring in advertising revenue to an ever shrinking paper the true appeal? In one of the issue’s interviews of the designer, by renowned French journalist Françoise Marie Santucci, he declares that he drinks diet coke first thing in the morning – only for the reader to discover a two-page spread advertising of his own silhouette on a Diet Coke bottle (well, “Coca Light” en français), a few pages later. And another full page one at the back of the paper.
Yes, the French love fashion, but surely they love freedom of press even more? ‘Libé’ is no fashion magazine, so why treat it as one?