Karl Lagerfeld in Bazaar: Feminists Are Ugly

From “What Would Coco Do” in the September issue of Bazaar, wherein designer Karl Lagerfeld was Bazaar_LeightonMeester_Sept09 asked to “channel the original fashion wit,” Coco Chanel:

HB: Your clothing liberated women in the 1920s. Are you still a feminist?

CC: I was never a feminist because I was never ugly enough for that.

Did your jaw just drop in disbelief? Mine did, too.

So, according to Karl-as-Coco, feminists are ugly. And it’s not just that they’re unattractive—it’s their very lack of pulchritude that made them resort to feminism. What constitutes “ugly enough”? Who knows? When I decided to call myself a feminist, it’s not like I was forced to parade around in a bathing suit before a panel of judges who determined whether I was unappealing enough to do so.

In Monsieur Lagerfeld’s Magical Gender Equity Utopia, beautiful women apparently have no need for feminism. Which is an awesome fantasy for genetic-lottery winners, but I’d rather live in a world where my worth isn’t directly proportionate to how closely I conform to whatever happens to be in style this week. I know, I must be ugly and insane!

Other than being a blatant insult to feminists, Lagerfeld’s attitude is troubling because it forces women into a game we can’t win. Within this rubric, a gorgeous woman’s sole quality is her appearance; and an average woman’s intelligence or insight is nullified by her embrace of feminism.

The end result: our only worth is the way we look. How’s that for ugly?

14 thoughts on “Karl Lagerfeld in Bazaar: Feminists Are Ugly

  1. I agree, he’s just showing his ignorance…and pigfull attitude. This comment from him is very unbecoming…dare I say ugly?

  2. Clearly Karl knows nothing about Coco. She did not wait for marriage to begin her life, she started a business and lived her life to change an industry. So his comment, like his other comments are full of hot air. And btw, I bet he’s just cranky because he’s hungry.

  3. Honestly, I’m not too appalled by what Karl Lagerfield said. Feminism has been branded by a beauty standard that is not very feminine. No makeup, no bras, no shaving: these are the stereotypes of feminism and, honestly, Karl’s right that that aesthetic has no place in high fashion.

  4. Parsing Nonsense:

    “…these are the stereotypes of feminism…”

    Are feminists to blame for how *other people* stereotype them?

    If KL had said that Jews are miserly, would you shrug and say “Well, that IS the stereotype of Judaism”? As opposed to, you know, being outraged?

    I also like your statement “That aesthetic has no place in high fashion.” Could you provide a list of what *does*? I’m sure we’d all love to see it!

  5. Wow Abraham, I think you’ve got enough outrage for the both of us.

    I don’t think your analogy is apt, in that if Karl had been racist it would be an entirely different issue than the one being discussed here.

    In the beginning, feminists are the ones who created that stereotype for themselves. The face of feminism is changing, and hopefully someday the stereotype will swing back around to accommodate a more accurate picture of what feminism has grown into.

    As for what aesthetic does have a place in high fashion? I don’t think a list is necessary, I suggest you pick up a copy of Vogue.


  6. “if Karl had been racist it would be an entirely different issue than the one being discussed here.”

    How so? Because it affects Jews instead of women? One group can be discriminated against but the other can’t?

    “In the beginning, feminists are the ones who created that stereotype for themselves.”

    Cite? Or are you content to simply blame the victim?

    “That aesthetic has no place in high fashion.”

    I think many of us would like to see you defend that statement rather than back-pedal, evade it, and make a joke. I know *I’m* still waiting.


  7. Whoah! Coco not a feminist? I think she, like most women alive in the western world today, had feminist ideals. Women are terrified of being identified as a feminist as though that implies they are not feminine, or don’t groom themselves adequately, or aren’t pretty or thin or heterosexual, or friendly or sensual or funny… or however they’d like to be seen. But the fact is, if you expect women to be accorded the same rights as men by employers, your government and courts of law, then you have feminism to thank for that radical idea. Want to vote, drive, work, finish school, have a bank account, own property (including lipstick and shoes), choose when and whom to marry? Then thank feminism for the fact you can.

  8. Lagerfeld’s made his name in an industry that is purely devoted to the celebtration of superficiality; are we surprised that he said something superficial?

  9. Lagerfeld really is becoming tedious with his odd comments. I’m disappointed that he subscribes to such antiquated views on feminism. It’s rather troubling that he goes all nuts and senile on us in a time where the only real innovation associated with the House of CHANEL is the way in which it is explored as a pastiche by other designers (Marc Jacobs, Dolce&Gabbana etc.).

  10. This is the man who, having designed a collection for H&M here in the UK, then chucked a tremendous wobbly when he realised that his precious, precious designs would be produced in sizes all the way up to a whopping 16 (the average size for a UK woman). I can’t find a link but the words ‘fat’, ‘ugly’, and ‘outrage’ were definitely used….

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