Karl Lagerfeld leaves behind a complicated legacy, but to one woman he will always be the world famous fashion designer she told she wanted to dress as a box when she was seven.
Journalist Svenja O’Donnell shared a story of when she came across Lagerfeld – who has died in Paris following a short illness – as a young girl in the French capital.
O’Donnell recalled receiving an invitation to a seventh birthday party and, with her mother fretting over finding an outfit to impress, her godmother – who worked for Lagerfeld – stepped in.
She produced “a beautiful yellow silk princess dress, sourced from offcuts from Chloe”.
O’Donnell said: “The problem was that, aged 7, I was a complete tomboy. I flatly refused to wear it. You see, I’d already set my heart on my outfit. I was going to go to this party dressed as a box.”
When she started to cry at the sight of the dress, O’Donnell was ushered into Lagerfeld’s office so he could tell her why she should wear the dress.
When she told him she wanted to attend the party dressed in a box, the response was not what anyone expected.
O’Donnell wrote: “He sprang up and clapped his hands. ‘A wonderful idea!’ he replied, beaming, and he really meant it.
“Within minutes, he’d got his assistant to bring a selection of boxes from the storeroom. We found one big enough to cover me and he helped me cut out holes for my head and arms.”
She recalled that the box was duly adorned with a Lagerfeld fan on the front, and that the look was completed with red socks and white trainers.
O’Donnell concluded: “I’ll always (remember) it as the day one of the world’s greatest designers, himself no stranger to tantrums, took an hour of his time to indulge the creativity of a child.
“It still gives me the courage, thirty years later, to have confidence in my ideas. Thanks again Karl; the box was a hit.”