Karl Lagerfeld’s bodyguard Sébastien Jondeau came out of his employer’s larger-than-life shadow this summer when he starred in a campaign for Lagerfeld’s namesake menswear line, because of course Lagerfeld would have a bodyguard capable of doubling as a print model — he has a cat that does the same.
The campaign included a short two-minute video interview, which left us thinking, wow, there is still so much more we want to know about this guy’s life and career. Imagine everything he sees. And how did he land such a coveted position in the first place? Does he beat up a lot of Lagerfeld stalkers? Fortunately, men’s fashion mag Man of the World thought to dig a little deeper for its forthcoming issue, covered by
Tim Riggins Taylor Kitsch, and we have an exclusive advanced peek at the interview.
“I had just left the army and was working on several different things at the same time,” said Jondeau of how he got his start in the bodyguard industry. “I was heavy into boxing, and there was a crew of guys from my neighborhood that had a security company,” which he eventually joined.
But, how does a former boxer end up the bodyguard and right-hand man to fashion designer, filmmaker and Choupette-caretaker, Karl freaking Lagerfeld? Jondeau got to know Lagerfeld from one of the aforementioned “several different things” he used to work on — namely, “the company that looked after the furniture collections in his various houses.” They were fast friends.
We got along well. Mr. Lagerfeld knew I was into various combat sports, and that I boxed. He was interested in what I did, and we were friendly, and so I took a chance one day and told him that if he ever needed a bodyguard, I was available. Soon after, I started working for him—not really as his bodyguard, but more as a kind of driver and right-hand man, although I’d take care of his safety, too, when we were travelling around.
But is he transitioning into modeling on top of that? Jondeau insists that despite his appearance in that Karl Lagerfeld campaign, and this men’s fashion magazine, he is “not really a model.” However, he had actually modeled before the Karl gig. “It had nothing to do with Karl or Chanel. It was for A.P.C.. [Founder] Jean Touitou was looking to shoot five boxers.”
But back to his current gig — guarding Lagerfeld’s body (and presumably Choupette’s, though there is inexplicably no mention of her in the interview). Apparently, the job is far more mundane than what we see in the movies. It’s all about stopping altercations before they happen.
We try to avoid physical contact as much as humanly possible when we are protecting someone. It sells movie tickets, but the reality is completely different. Ninety-nine percent of what we do is about being diplomatic. There is a craft to it. The more intelligent a bodyguard is, the better the outcome will be in every confrontation. Our brains are our primary weapons, before resorting to brawn.
He even describes it as “a bit Buddhist.” Finally he has these wise words for anyone considering a career in personal protection:
There are guys who have done this all their lives—guys protecting people on perilous missions around the world, in dangerous countries, never far from death—and I am far below their level. Perhaps they would know better. But in my mind, to be a good bodyguard you have to be sure of yourself. At the same time, you need to be at peace with yourself, because if you are at war with the world and you have something to prove, you might kill someone. And that is no good.
Nope. No good. Since just about everything this guy says sounds like a line from a movie, we think a Sébastien Jondeau biopic is definitely in order. Maybe Karl can direct.
Check out the full interview in the next issue of Man of the World, on newsstands December 30.