No party, please: Karl Lagerfeld turns 70 -- or 75

No party, please: Karl Lagerfeld turns 70 -- or 75

10th September 2008, Comments 0 comments

No one knows for sure but an upcoming tell-all book may reveal it.

Berlin -- Dark glasses, black suits, white ponytail: Top designer Karl Lagerfeld has long since turned from a mere designer into an icon of fashion, style and eccentricity. His unchanged appearance almost seems like a mask never taken off.

Nevertheless, on Sept. 10, his 70th birthday will arrive -- at least, according to the official version. There even are people who say I will turn 75," Lagerfeld recently told DPA. The truth actually lies in between, he added.

He was referring to rumors about him replacing a 3 in his birth year 1933 with an 8. A German tabloid weekly published a copy of Lagerfeld's acclaimed baptism certificate from 1933. When a book by British journalist Alicia Drake added evidence to the suggestions in 2006, it was met with fierce criticism by Lagerfeld.

Otherwise, he is unlikely to be touched by his upcoming anniversary. "I hate birthdays," he said. Although the same is true for retrospectives -- Lagerfeld likes to quote the Jewish saying "You don't get credit for the past," -- his timeless facade is worth a look behind.

Lagerfeld, who has been head couturier of high end fashion label Chanel for 25 years, started his glittering career from the down-to-earth surroundings of Hamburg's industrial upper class.

His father, a millionaire condensed-milk magnate (founding the Glucksklee brand in 1926), his mother a passionate violinist, Lagerfeld grew up fairly shielded from the disasters of World War II, in northern Germany's countryside.

As he does not approve of looking back, he has no emotional connection to his home town. His favorite place was wherever he currently was, the designer said.

Escaping to Paris at 14 and being awarded a major prize for a coat design only two years later, he started his steep career with an apprenticeship at major label Pierre Balmain. For almost half a century, Lagerfeld has since shaped the international world of luxury fabrics.

He gained world star status when he gave Chanel a make over in the early 1980s, bringing the traditional house back on track. In 1990, he chose Claudia Schiffer as the new face of Chanel and the model soon became the fashion guru's muse and one of Germany's most celebrated faces.

Lagerfeld maintains he is a hard-working man, sitting at his desk for up to 20 hours per day. From there, he not only steers fashions labels through the shallows of the couture market, but has also widened his celebrity to a variety of activities: As a fashion photographer, who published 13 books and photo collections, as a diet role model for the 3D Diet which helped him lose 42 kilograms in 2002 and most recently as a toy designer, when he created a teddy bear resembling himself.

The many-faceted designer, who is also known for idiosyncrasies -- like a love for mittens and a habit of wearing up to 26 rings at a time -- recently announced that he soon would reveal the secret of his age.

His autobiography would tell the truth, he said. Nothing is known about the release date of the book. Lagerfeld, it seems, will remain a mystery as long as he chooses to.

Lena Jakat/DPA/Expatica

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