Fashion & Beauty / My Year With Karl

Karl Lagerfeld on Choupette

Susannah Frankel speaks to the legendary designer about his charming (and undeniably chic) feline companion, Choupette

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Choupette Etching
Susannah Frankel's Choupette Etching from Karl LagerfeldPhotography by Baker and Evans

"It took time for her to get used to the camera," Karl Lagerfeld explains of the above averagely photogenic Choupette when we meet in March. "Normally cats don’t like it and run away. She doesn’t like to be photographed at all." Nonetheless, in fashion circles Choupette enjoys superstar status, having appeared in editorials everywhere from V Magazine to British Harper’s Bazaar. Still, she’s something of a feline Garbo.

"She did Opal, like Claudia Schiffer, in Germany. After the campaign came out, they sold 10,000 cars in two weeks" – Karl Lagerfeld

"She did Opal, like Claudia Schiffer, in Germany," M Lagerfeld says. "After the campaign came out, they sold 10,000 cars in two weeks. And she was paid a fortune for that." Two million euros allegedly, which just goes to show that a) her owner is one hell of an agent and b) playing hard to get pays off. "No, no, I didn't want her to do it you see," Lagerfeld confirms.

"Choupette did a campaign in Japan for Shu Uemura too," her proud owner continues. The couturier prefers to draw with the cosmetic company’s eye shadows than any other materials, finding their colours the most beautiful and, last year, Choupette inspired her own cosmetics line – the neatly entitled ‘Shu-Pette’. "Because, you know, with the little Japanese girls she’s a huge success," Lagerfeld says.

Choupette, who was born on August 15, 2011 was given to model Baptiste Giabiconi that November and entrusted to her current owner when Giabiconi went away for the holidays in December of that year. If ever proof were needed that a cat is not just for Christmas, adoption followed and Choupette duly became what might not unreasonably be described as the love of Karl Lagerfeld’s life. She famously travels with him on his private jet in specially-commissioned Goyard luggage. She eats at the table with him and has her food prepared by his personal chef.

"After three hours she’s had enough. She falls asleep and sleeps for 12 hours." - Karl Lagerfeld

"It’s funny that people wanted a cat like this. I get offers for food and I say 'no, no, no'. They don’t have the money. I don’t want her to work and I do the pictures myself. The car campaign took three hours. She comes with her maid. Like a princess. She knows all my assistants so she’s not scared. She’s surrounded by people she knows. There are no strangers around. But after three hours she’s had enough. She falls asleep and sleeps for 12 hours."

It’s a cat’s life. Still: "I put all of that money in a special account so, if anything happens to me, the person who takes care of her gets it all. In fact, Choupette is an heiress," Lagerfeld adds.

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