Lagerfeld slams 'fat, jealous mummies'

Karl Lagerfeld, the pony-tailed German fashion designer, weighed into the deepening row about skinny models yesterday and said that those who criticised them for looking bony or anorexic were fat " chip-eating" mummies who were simply jealous of them.

The bizarre statements by the eccentric catwalk guru came only days after Brigitte, one of Germany's top-selling fashion magazines, broke with a decades-long tradition and announced it was banning professional models from its pages and replacing them with "real-life women".

Lagerfeld, who has subjected himself to a rigorous slimming schedule, described the magazine's decision as absurd and said it had fallen victim to overweight women. "These are fat mummies who sit with bags of potato chips in front of the television saying that thin models are ugly," he told Focus magazine. The 71-year-old designer insisted that fashion was all about "dreams and illusions". He added: "Nobody wants to see a round woman."

Lagerfeld's arguments were backed up by the Hamburg fashion designer John Ribbe. He told Focus that the dispute about zero-sized models was getting hysterical. "Ninety per cent of them are quite normal, properly proportioned girls with less fat and more muscle and they also eat pizzas and burgers," he insisted.

Brigitte, which has the largest women's magazine readership in Germany, shocked the fashion world earlier this month with its announcement that it intends to bar professional "zero size" models from its pages as of next year.

Editor Andreas Lebert said his staff were " fed up" with having to retouch photographs of underweight models to make them look more like ordinary women. "For years we've had to use Photoshop to make these girls look fatter. Their thighs and their breasts have been the main problem. I think this is disturbing and perverse. What has it got to do with our normal readers ?" he asked.

The decision to ban professional models was also a response to a growing number of complaints from readers about the fact they bore no resemblance to the models on the fashion pages and were sick of seeing " protruding bones".

From 2010, the magazine will start asking ordinary women to apply to become models. "We will be looking for women who have their own identity. It could be an 18-year-old student, a company chairwoman or a footballer," he said.