Essence of the present

Essence of the present
German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld and Karl Lagerfeld fragrance for women (inset).

Vanity is the healthiest thing in life." "Think pink, but don't wear it."

Karl Lagerfeld's infamous one-liners could fill a book. (In fact, they have: Last year, Rizzoli published The World According To Karl.)

He was born pre-World War II (his age vacillates between 78 and 80, depending on which report you read), but is the perfect designer for our post-millennium era. He speaks in sound bites, relishes technology and has an insatiable appetite for creating.

In spite of the relentless chew-'em-up-and-spit-'em-out pace of the fashion industry, Lagerfeld has managed - over 60 years - to fit in collaborations with Diet Coke, Volkswagen and even Barbie, on top of his day job at Chanel and Fendi.

Like every modern-day visionary from Jobs to Zuckerberg, he also understands the power of marketing an image.

Lagerfeld needs no introduction. His profile is so famous the world over, even the name card for his eponymous label features merely an etching: black shades, nifty white ponytail and a high-collared shirt.

His own Kaiser aesthetic and brand were first launched in 1974, and reintroduced in 2012. In a pioneering move then, he chose to unveil the brand's new look by partnering exclusively with global e-commerce phenomenon Net-a-porter.

The apparel brand's growth has been exponential, hitting 26 distribution points in two years. The staples that make up Lagerfeld's own wardrobe line the white steel rails: skinny black jeans, razor-sharp blazers, leather biker jackets and stark white shirts. Fragrance seems like a natural progression.

I'm in Paris for the launch of the first fragrance duo under the revamped Karl Lagerfeld brand. (Fact: He has created scents before, but those were over 30 years ago and reminiscent of the Lagerfeld of yesteryear - a far cry from the sleek, angular bottles hitting the stores this month. And this project is reportedly the first time he has introduced a scent for men and women in one go.)

The vision behind this fragrance is mass luxe. It is the same ethos that drove the designer to resurrect and reinvent his namesake line to be in sync with a new generation and era. "It's not too expensive," he asserts.

The first words out of his mouth as we settle down for a chat, it is clear this is a point he is eager to make. "I want it to be completely different from what I do at Chanel and Fendi. It's a completely different way of approaching and selling fashion. It's a modern attitude to luxury."

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