Lord knows why Alexa Camp wasn’t asked to review this one. I mean, sure, I can still fit my torso into small, form-fitting T-shirts, and the inseam of my jeans is still a much higher number than my waist. I also count George Michael’s “Too Funky” among my top five favorite music videos of all time, but fashion is, to me, just what Tyra says it is, which isn’t all that much. The fashion world, on the other hand, is something else entirely, and something I and most others who dwell in the creative class can’t just dismiss by wearing paint-spattered Levis 501s. It’s just about one of the only microcosmic societies unto itself that is actually aware of its own cosseted status as a microcosm, nominally irrelevant to the public at large (saving the occasional video of a model taking a spill on the catwalk to provide the perfect kicker to any well-rounded newscast) and yet seemingly convinced of its position at the very center of the celebrity culture that has enveloped mass media and, in that, the world. Lagerfeld Confidential examines that paradox, none too convincingly.
Documentarian Rodolphe Marconi follows Lagerfeld around as he designs runway shows, gives Nicole Kidman an exclusive photo shoot (with Baz Luhrmann in plucky tow), juggles iPods with his ring-wrapped fingers, and devotes what seems like all his free time to snapping pictures of a flax-haired Adonis who gives Lagerfeld face in front of the camera and may or may not be offering him head behind it. Toward the end of the filmed portrait, Lagerfeld passive-aggressively explains his desire to remain alone for major chunks of his day (he says it helps him recharge his creative batteries), and his reclusive airs and intimidating demeanor are hardly redeemed by Marconi’s journalistic obsequiousness. Never one to press his subject on controversial topics (his sexuality, his family history, his career’s episodes of infamy), it’s sometimes all Marconi can do to keep his camera as unobtrusive as possible; many stretches of the film look as though they were taken with an undercover camera, while other shots, such as those taken on the runway, all but trip over themselves to give the designer some room.
Maybe Lagerfeld can be taken at his word and maybe he does save his best time for himself. But on the other hand, I’ve heard vaguely closeted homos with a crippling lack of romantic self-worth argue against the idea of monogamy as a heteronormative, “bourgeoisie” tenet before. Lagerfeld’s unwillingness to open up and Marconi’s skittishness about invoking his wrath result in a perfect storm of dull. Evidently the clothes do make the man and nothing more, because Lagerfeld Confidential lives up to its title by keeping its central topic top secret.