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Documentaries keep designers cloaked in mystery

February 16, 2007|From Reuters

BERLIN — Two French documentaries feting the lives of reclusive designers Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld shore up the myths that surround their subjects but shed little light on the men behind the fashions.

Fawning celebrities, strutting models and square-jawed assistants featured in Rodolphe Marconi's "Lagerfeld Confidential" lend a dose of glamour to the proceedings at this year's Berlin Film Festival.

"It is a reflection of me, a reflection of what I wanted to show about myself," Lagerfeld told reporters after the premiere, adding, however, that he had nothing to do with editing the film.

Director Marconi, who first met Lagerfeld in a bar, reduced 150 hours of material shot over two years into an 88-minute feature. Clad in trademark dark glasses with his gray ponytail bobbing above his starched collars, Lagerfeld comes across as a humorous eccentric who survives on his wits alone.

In the film, he jets between his various houses and to photo shoots with top models and actors, such as Nicole Kidman. He never leaves home without one in his arsenal of iPods or the velvet comforter cushion his nanny gave him as a child.

But Lagerfeld warned viewers that he'd already moved on. "This film is from a particular time, and today I am already someone else," he told reporters. "I am a puppet in my own hands."

Another premiere, "Celebration," shows a chain-smoking and virtually monosyllabic Saint Laurent, apparently terrorized by anxiety and the fear of public scorn for his collections.

Saint Laurent never acknowledges the camera and is often shown in black-and-white footage, making him appear isolated from his colorful creations in the rest of the film.

Director Olivier Meyrou focuses on the complex relationship between Saint Laurent and his business partner, Pierre Berge, a former lover who helped make the YSL couture house one of the most respected in the world during their 40-year collaboration.

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