School was out and it was a muggy Monday in the summer of 1990.
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Don’t remember how I got there but I knew what I was there for. On the ground floor of Macy’s a crowd had formed around one of the perfume counters. It was not Channel, nor Dior or Estee Lauder. Instead it was black banners with fluorescent green text, no models but a man in black suit in the middle. He was not primarily known for fragrance but rather for couture. The black gloves, the frilly shirt, the sharply cut jackets the standup collar had not premiered in his wardrobe yet. But the sunglasses and of course the pony tail, had and the telltale accent had stuck with him and was well familiar to those to whom he was Karl.
The banner behind him was emblazoned with Lagerfeld PHOTO the name of his newly launched fragrance. Perfume was not my passion but photo was and personally I wanted to walk away with two things. One, some decent pictures and Two a signed copy of the photo book he had recently published, which was on offer to the first of us present. I started with the images and got eight frames at the end of a roll of Tri-X (I was after all still a poor student just out of photo school, seeing the pictures some might say a poor photo student as well) As he was about to sign my copy he asked for my name and perhaps I divulged that I am Swedish). He smiled and put the marker to paper and with wide strokes covered the page with the dedication and signature.
With book and camera back in the Domke, I left probably smelling like Photo (I vaguely remember a gift bottle). The fragrance did not stay around but the memory of the encounter and the photobook “Karl Lagerfeld - Photographer” still do. Kaiser or not at least he was a fashion Icon.
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