Funny how things come about on this blog. Today we’re going to discuss Your Uncle Karl – and how I met him. This is happening because of the Comfort Zone posts of the past few days, at least tangentially. Also because it’s a Really Funny Story.
Okay. To be honest, I don’t really know how this post came about. But we’ll discuss it – and Uncle Karl – anyway. I mean, why not, right? It’s got perfume! It’s got attitude (LOTS! of attitude) … it’s got fans!
So. This did kinda come about because of Divine (the perfume) – and sweatergawd, I haz NO idea how I came upon Divine – but it is, in a word, Divine. However I came upon it, I ended up on Fragrantica (Floyd bless them) to read up on it and in the comments was an answer to a question I didn’t know I’d asked: what does Divine remind me of?
The answer: Chloe by Lagerfeld. lots of other commenters reference Ysatis but that wasn’t what I was smelling because I couldn’t remember Ysatis – whereas Chloe… ho, yus! I wore Chloe for eons and loved it beyond all loving. Launched in 1975, it defined the late 70s/early 80s for me (AnaisAnais was my ‘lighter’ fragrance) – it is a rich, unctuous-but-not-cloying, Big Haired perfume, possibly the only perfume in (my) existence to combine coconut in a way that doesn’t suggest suntan lotion.
Divine came about a decade later, with many of the same notes and that same 80s focus, dialed down from 11 to … say..9.5? Yeah, we’ll go with that. Richard Ibanez (Azzaro, Cabotine, MDCI among others) was the nose for this – and it’s a slightly greener, thinner (that is not a criticism) perfume, less unctuous and more lightly floral. Considering that Herr Lagerfeld was at the helm of Chloe at the time of the eponymous perfume, I am not surprised.
Which brings me to How I Met Your Uncle Karl.
Herr Lagerfeld came into the general public eye at a time when designers were just beginning to become global icons beyond fashion’s 1% – and to celebrate (and market) themselves as a brand. And, boy howdy, was Lagerfeld ever LAGERFELD! The queue, with its black velvet ribbon, the fall of lace from neck and wrists, the waistcoats…the Lagerfeldian glower… the ‘tude…the fan.
Oh, the fan.
So. What y’all might not know about Musette is this: I used to constantly be in possession of A Fan. I have a lovely collection, from silk-printed Chinese fans to carved woodens, woven silks, even some ‘church’ fans (those are always fun)…… and, along with my silk wraps and bespoke gowns and coats, I employed them to great effect. And I was the Advertising Manager at Marshall Field & Company, right when it was at the last of its apex (bought by a succession of retail congloms, it quickly devolved)… Bill Blass, Calvin Klein, John Saladino (who was so elegant – omg. Adored him), Martha, Thierry Mugler (before I knew who he was)…I met them all. All of them fabulous… but NONE of them were anything like Herr Karl.
And I was young. And truly clueless.
So. We were all at this cocktail party, where senior management and bigwig customers were invited to meet the vaunted Herr Lagerfeld. Honestly, I still don’t know why I didn’t do my homework – (hint: young. and clueless) … but I was arrogant. And I didn’t.
And I carried my fan.
Folks swirling around Herr Karl, bowing and scraping and cheesin’ like lima beans…. he was the guest of honor in the receiving line …and by some weird confluence of insanity I, dressed in black (with a white blouse) and a faaabulous wrap, was placed about 2 away from him. Two people. Between me and Herr K. Two. Which makes this even more horrifyingly hysterical.
You know where this is going, don’t you? Yes. Yes. You. Do.
So. The room is getting a tad …warmish. I’m carrying a fan. So, of course, is Herr Karl.
And, as the room heats up… we both snap open our fans … At The Same Time.
okay. so. Lemmetellya. Wait. Even better, let me give you a comparison. Let’s pretend you are swimming in a lagoon and a Great White is cruising by. He doesn’t really see you, isn’t looking for you…and you’re pretty much safe…
…until you do something stupid, like snap open a fan.
Pretty much everyone in the room froze. Including me. I was beginning to form an apology but the ferocious look lasering out of The Karl just shriveled the words to dust. My boss was busy trying not to have a heart attack and…well, the only reason I didn’t get fired (or killed) right there on the spot is the CEO was a good friend – and he (and his wife, bless them both) were not above seeing the humor in the ridiculous situation. They were too busy trying not to bust out laughing . My boss? Not. So. Much. But she couldn’t kill me right there and then, so she just hustled me off the receiving line and pretty much THREW me out of there.
And I was happy to be thrown. That shark up there? He ain’t got nothin’ on Herr Lagerfeld.
It’s now eons ago – but do you know! when I spritzed my sample of Chloe, that whole debacle came rushing back and for juuust a minute… well, he was a pretty terrifying personage, lemmetellya. I think I’d rather have dealt with that shark.
But I still love Chloe.
And now I love Divine, too!
Herr Karl? Not so much. And I’ll bet the feeling was mutual.