In this week's episode of Fashion Feuds, one of the world's most-revered designers goes up against a media trifecta.
On Friday, Karl Lagerfeld delivered several punches in a harsh tirade against Tina Brown in the concluding minutes of an hour-long presser in Tokyo, reports WWD.
Why Tina, one might ask?
Brown is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Beast and Newsweek. In January, Newsweek published a thoughtful, compelling and all-too-valid piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion journalist Robin Givhan titled, Is Chanel Designer Karl Lagerfeld Spread Too Thin?
In the story, Givhan paid her respects to the designer by lauding Lagerfeld for his contributions to fashion. However, this was not the type of piece in which the writer shelters and coddles the designer. Consider Givhan's opening line- "Karl Lagerfeld is overrated." She also added a few additional remarks on Lagerfeld's line, KARL, and provided a no-nonsense overview on his Macy's capsule collection. Somewhere within the piece, Givhan delivered a huge blow to Lagerfeld's ego saying French fashion house Chanel does not need the designer, but rather that in this particular relationship, Karl needs Chanel. Clearly, he was not pleased.
But isn't that journalism? To present honest, straight-forward facts, voiced through a multitude of opinions? It's not as if Givhan's piece was misleading or lacking in research. She did her job, and she presented her case well. Unfortunately, in the unforgiving world of fashion, an honest opinion could cost a reporter. For example, in retaliation, Karl "punished" Givhan for her words. A good-humored, understanding Givhan, having been a former front-row staple at Chanel shows, was demoted several rows behind her typical spot in Lagerfeld's most-recent presentation in Paris.
It was apparent then that the czar of Chanel was not over the article, and it's even more apparent in this case:
When one journalist inquired about Givhan's story at the Friday presser, Karl shot back with, "First of all, Tina Brown's magazine is not doing well at all." (Psychologically speaking, when an individual begins a sentence with, "First of all," it typically means he or she is in an extremely defensive state of mind.)
Karl then proceeded with, "She is dying." (Uh, last time we checked, Tina was alive and kicking.) But here's what really topped it off: "I'm sorry for Tina Brown, who was such a success at Vanity Fair to go down with a sh--ty little paper like this. I'm sorry," he concluded.
In response, Newsweek released a statement to Fashionista stating, "In the past year since Tina Brown took over as editor in chief of Newsweek, newsstand sales have increased 30% year on year, advertising pages have seen a 27% increase for the first quarter of 2012, we have over 2.2 million people engaged in our social media communities and perhaps the most telling indicator of the renewed vitality of Newsweek, subscription renewals, in a consistent state of decline since 2005, rose by 3% last year."
Therefore, Tina Brown is rocking out at Newsweek. Meanwhile, Lagerfeld should be warned that if he wants to take down a publication in the near future, he should consider being briefed on its numbers before he speaks. For the rest of us, we should all take one key lesson from this fiasco: Take the high road.