Friday, December 9, 2011

Lagerfeld's Bombay: Is he lazy or insightful?

Image stolen from Sorry Guardian
Karl Lagerfeld, the creative director and head designer of the French fashion house Chanel, has just unveiled his pre-fall collection in Paris. And guess what? It's theme is "Paris-Bombay".

Bombay here stands for entire India, of course, much the same way that Bombay and Delhi did for the Centre Pompidou's blockbuster summer exhibition on Indian contemporary art: "Paris-Delhi-Bombay". Two black points to France for unimaginative titles.

What makes Lagerfeld's collection - replete with bindis, bangles, tikkas and pearl necklaces - still cheekier is that fact that he has never actually visited India, let alone Bombay. "It is much more inspiring not to go to places than to go," he reportedly quipped backstage.

Now there are two ways to interpret this act. First, Lagerfeld is lazy. He has put a whole collection together based on his idea of India rather than the reality of the country: much like the Lonely Planet writer who authored a guidebook to Columbia based on the information collected from his Columbian girlfriend without actually visiting the country.

On the other hand, maybe, Lagerfeld is being honest. Perhaps, he just knows his limitations. He is, after all, into the business of inspiring and selling luxury, decadence and aesthetics - three things famously absent in Mumbai. We have immensely rich people in Mumbai but I have never seen the rich live in more discomfort anywhere in the world than they do in Mumbai. Perhaps, Lagerfeld is intelligent enough to recognize that what he is looking for simply doesn't exist in Mumbai. Sometimes, it is indeed more inspiring not to go to places and to live with your myths than to actually visit it and have them crushed.


Lex said...

His comment sounds like the basic idea of Alain de Botton's book 'The Art of Travel.' Maybe he's read it?
x Lex

globalbabble said...

Oh Really! Does Alain de Botton recommend travel without travelling? I must read it!

Anonymous said...


I stumbled across your valid article about Madhu Sapre and the Commonwealth Games Baton....I agree'd with what you said...she is still amazing and gorgeous and a good friend of mine.
Some silly jealous little hater had a not so nice comment on your page, otherwise Id show her how nice it was you recognised what she did...(why do people hate achievers?)
She has had a positive influence on my career too..after her showing in Miss Universe people started actively hunting for models of Indian blood and I was one of them.


Colin Mathura-Jeffree

globalbabble said...

Hi Colin,

I always thought Sapre was a great model: lithe, fit with great presence. But I liked her most because she was, and always remained, a terribly honest Maharashtrian. Years later, I remember watching a long interview with her and was again struck by her amazing candour and lack of pretentiousness. May her tribe increase...