Numéro Magazine sat down for a rare interview with Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld. The conversation stretched over a mass of different topics, but Lagerfeld’s comments on the #MeToo movement seemed to shock everyone. His quick retort to the interviewer’s question was hard to believe, especially with Lagerfeld being at the top of the fashion food chain. Being no stranger to speaking his mind, Lagerfeld did not think twice before slamming the #MeToo movement and saying he has had enough.
When asked about the #MeToo movement he responded by saying “I’m fed up with it. I don’t even eat pig [in France the movement’s known as #BalanceTonPorc] What is most shocking in all of this is that the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact that there are no prosecution witnesses.”
When he was asked if the movement had affected the way he worked, given that he works in an industry plagued with sexual assault cases, he was quick to deny any such notion. “Absolutely not. I read somewhere that now you must ask a model if she is comfortable with posing. It's simply too much, from now on, as a designer, you can’t do anything. As for the accusations against the poor Karl Templar [creative director at Interview magazine], I don’t believe a single word of it. A girl complained he tried to pull her pants down and he is instantly excommunicated from a profession that up until then had venerated him. It's unbelievable. If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!”
With the comment about joining a nunnery being one of the most disturbing, it is important to analyze why it is so problematic.
In an industry as fast-paced as fashion, it is important for brands, magazines, publications, and agencies to protect the men and women they work with. In a post-Harvey Weinstein world, most have become more vigilant with how they handle situations depicted by #MeToo. Vogue Magazine introduced a new code of conduct that specifically protects their employees from harassment with behavioral guidelines for partners along with many other companies following suit. Although the interest may be in saving face, it still provides defense and awareness that was long overdue, so it is extremely concerning for a man like Karl Lagerfeld to directly state that this cultural shift has had no effect on the way he runs his multi-billion dollar business.
This significant disregard demonstrated by Lagerfeld could lead to any of the employees under the Chanel brand interpreting this as a green light to do whatever they want without fear of consequences. This is the most regressive statement seen from an executive with such magnitude and it is unclear whether or not there will be consequences.