Thus spoke Lagerfeld: Design guru goes back to Nietzsche

Chanel's creative director is launching a radical publishing project. Tom Peck on the couturier and the philosopher's tomes

No one has had enough courage and intelligence to reveal me to my dear Germans," wrote a frustrated Friedrich Nietzsche to his cellist friend Carl Fuchs in 1887. "My problems are new, my psychological horizon frighteningly comprehensive, my language bold and clear; there may well be no books written in German which are richer in ideas and more independent than mine."

Contemporaries did not share his view: it was only two years later, when he was found hugging a horse in a Turin plaza and retired to a mental asylum to live out his final decade under the influence of syphilis, that his reputation began to grow.

Nietzsche would be pleased, then, that 110 years later a similarly self-assured German, the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, is to print the entirety of his work, in 12 volumes, in its original German – perhaps in a bid to secure his legacy for his compatriots. Only 3,000 copies of Nietzsche's Nietzsche will be produced, he told the fashion website WWD. It will feature the typeset print alongside Nietzsche's manuscripts, complete with handwritten corrections and annotations. Lagerfeld, head designer and creative director of the French fashion house Chanel, showed photocopies of original pages to the website, featuring what he described as "dense blocks of small handwriting – some words underlined, others stricken and overwritten – on sheets of pale yellow paper".

Long-time collaborator Gerhard Steidl, founder of the German-language photobook printer and publisher Steidl, is also working on the project. "It's very easy to read if you understand this type of German," he said. "I would love to publish it in English, but it would take five to seven years to translate it."

The project is further evidence of Lagerfeld's surprisingly bookish tendencies. The 2007 documentary Lagerfeld Confidential revealed a personal library of over 300,000 tomes. The photographer Piotr Stoklosa shot him in his Paris apartment, for the current issue of VIVA! magazine, sitting in front of a great sweeping expanse of books. Last month he had to deny a story that he was working on a perfume, Paper Passion, based on the smell of books, to be sold inside a hardcover book with the pages hollowed out to hold the fragrance jar.

In January, while most in his world are frantically gearing up for the forthcoming big four fashion weeks, he said: "At the moment, I am very much into books about language, about French, the way it was, the way it should be, where it comes from. It sounds pretentious to talk about it."

Neither men being strangers to a spot of pretension ("Egoism is the very essence of a noble soul," Nietzsche once nobly boasted), the collaboration is a fitting one. Aside from the oft-quoted "God is dead" line, among Nietzsche's assertions was "one must have chaos within oneself to give birth to a dancing star".

Lagerfeld is a restless soul. Last week he was unveiling a Paris hotel room made of chocolate, which he designed as part of a promotion for an ice-cream company. Days prior to that the latest range of Lagerfeld-designed Coca-Cola light bottles were released. The German is an ambassador for the brand.

It became fashionable, for a while, to write off Nietzsche's philosophy after his attacks on parliamentary democracy and Christianity and his proclamations of the coming of a ruling race that would become the "lords of the earth", though the broad range of his ideas has seen his reputation largely rehabilitated.

Lagerfeld, meanwhile, is no stranger to a spot of persecution himself, suffering most notably when animal rights activists planted a custard pie in his face in 2001 in protest at the use of leather and fur in his shows. It is a wonder perhaps, that in the feud between him and animal rights activists ever since, he has never actively cited his favourite philosopher. Who could possibly get so worked up about the occasional mink when, as Nietzsche's fictional prophet Zarathustra generously nipped down from his mountain retreat to tell us: "God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers?" Quite.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support Specialist - Document Management

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A leading provider of document ...

    Recruitment Genius: Legal Secretary

    £17000 - £17800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to work ...

    Recruitment Genius: Ad Ops Manager - Up to £55K + great benefits

    £45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a digital speci...

    The Green Recruitment Company: Operations Manager - Anaerobic Digestion / Biogas

    £40000 - £45000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Operation...

    Day In a Page

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
    Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

    The Arab Spring reversed

    Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

    Who is Oliver Bonas?

    It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
    Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

    Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

    However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
    60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

    60 years of Scalextric

    Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
    Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

    Why are we addicted to theme parks?

    Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
    Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

    Iran is opening up again to tourists

    After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

    Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

    Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent