Karl Lagerfeld Says No One Wants to See "Round" Women

BlogHer Original Post

Not too long ago, designer Mark Fast caught our attention for including plus-sized models in his London Fashion Week runway show. Fast's decision inspired some really interesting discussion, both here at BlogHer and elsewhere, about everything from what constitutes a "plus" size to why couture matters. For the most part, though, everyone agreed that Fast's choice to show his clothes on women with actual curves was a step in the right direction.

Everyone, that is, except Karl Lagerfeld.

This week, the German magazine Focus published an interview in which Lagerfeld dismisses the use of plus sized models, calling it "absurd." The fashion industry, Lagerfeld told Focus, relies on "dreams and illusions, and no one wants to see round women."

"These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly," Lagerfeld says, adding that these women are just jealous of the models.

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Oh, Karl. For heaven's sake.

What got Lagerfeld on this particular soap box? No, it wasn't too many years of wearing those sunglasses and leather gloves constantly; it was German magazine Brigitte's decision to stop using models. Instead, the magazine will feature real women, says editor Andreas Lebert: "We will show women who have their own identity, the 18-year-old A-level student, the company chairwoman, the musician, the footballer."

Lagerfeld isn't down with that, unfortunately. Instead, he defends the models, saying that "Ninety percent of them are quite normal, properly proportioned girls with less fat and more muscles, who also eat pizzas and burgers." And while we're not picking on models, thin or otherwise, to assert that every woman who would like to see someone closer to her size is a "fat mummy" doesn't really make us want to defend Karl Lagerfeld.

We're not the only ones: Twirlit's Sherrie Gulmahamad is also rolling her eyes at Lagerfeld's pronouncements.

I don’t take exception to his idea that “round women” don’t mesh well with the dreamy fashion world. I take exception to calling us outspoken ones “fat mummies”! Lagerfeld (who is openly gay) can only see the female world as divided into his mannequins and to chubby potato chip-eating complainers. Plenty of healthywomen who think the size zero phenomenon is sick AREN’T potato chip couch surfers. I’m sure without much prodding you can find outspoken athletes, female politicians, philosophers and feminists, who aren’t “fat mummies”. Let us never forget that recently two supermodels wasted away to nothing and died of anorexia.

This raises a rather dicey question. Do the gay men controlling the fashion world also control the messaging about *our* bodies – and is it wrong, considering gay men aren’t really interested in our bodies in the first place?

Gulmahamad's question is an interesting one -- more interesting, perhaps, than Lagerfeld's uninformed assertion that women are down on super thin models because we're all essentially fat and lazy. Not because we're looking for a way to make fashion more than just dreams and illusions.

BlogHer CE avflox has an insider's perspective on the fashion world, and comes to a slightly different conclusion about Lagerfeld and the fashion industry.

Oh, but this is standard Karl, isn't it? He lives in a perpetual state of angina over society's murderous attacks on the skinny and the fur-loving.

I modeled when I was younger and I always thought that the whole point was that we had a nondescript body, and thus did not detract from the clothes. We were walking clothes hangers.

The fantasy and illusion is found in the genius of a collection and the portrayal of a specific lifestyle, not in the persons wearing its items. Karl should be concerned about how much emphasis is being placed on the bodies as opposed to his clothes and do something about that instead of making such a fuss. After all, this is his livelihood.

Focus, if they integrate different body types appropriately, is taking a step toward bringing the attention back to the clothes -- where it should be. Having said that, as a thin woman, I'm enraged by the statement that the mag will use "realistic" women because I am real, damn it. But, yes, variety would be excellent.

This gets to what I see as the heart of this discussion: Opting for models who look more like real women (even if we all agree that "plus" sized models are slim by most standards) is a step toward putting a kind of pragmatism into fashion. Lagerfeld fears the loss of the dream, but a fashion industry that lets all women dream about wearing the beautiful clothes that we see on the runway is an industry with a future.

What say you: Is fashion all about the dream, or are you crossing your fingers that one day you'll open a Vogue and see clothes that might actually work for your real girl figure?

Susan Wagner writes about pragmatic fashion at The Working Closet and chic suburban living at Friday Playdate.

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