Karl Lagerfeld does condos! Our interview with the designer + inside the Toronto party celebrating his arrival

Karl Lagerfeld Condos Toronto Party

“You look like a very young version of June Newton.” What a greeting.

Karl Lagerfeld didn’t need to win me over by comparing me to Helmut Newton’s wife. And the “very” inserted before “young” was probably a stretch. But it gives you an idea of how warm, generous and good-humoured the king of fashion was on his arrival in Toronto yesterday.

Lagerfeld private-jetted into town straight from New York where he had shown Chanel’s latest Métier d’Arts collection the night before. His Toronto entourage included pampered kitty Choupette, and if there was a diva in the bunch it was she with her advance list of special dietary requirements that put Four Seasons Hotel staff on high alert. But then, Choupette did earn more than $3 million in ad campaigns last year, so she’s probably feeling a little entitled.

Lagerfeld, though, was as laid back as could be as he discussed his reason for accepting a gig from Freed Developments and CD Capital Developments to design the lobbies for the Art Shoppe Lofts + Condos. “I had never been to Canada and I hate to be a tourist. So if I don’t do something professionally, I will never see Canada in my life.” It’s the same reason he did a condo lobby in Taiwan, and is working on a hotel in Macau.

And where other designers might simply license their name and cash the cheque, Lagerfeld is hands on to the extreme. “I have a precise vision but I am not allowed to talk about it yet,” he said. The only details he let slip are that, like his Paris home there will be little colour (“it gets dated very quickly”) and there will books (his personal library has 300,000 titles).

“He has carte blanche in terms of look,” noted Elaine Cecconi of Cecconi Simone, the Toronto interior design firm tasked with turning Lagerfeld’s vision into reality. She and the developers had a lengthy meeting with Lagerfeld in Paris last month and will return in a month for another. “He really wanted to understand the city. And he knew a lot about Canada. He had heard it was a hip country and very different from the U.S.”

Hopefully he’ll see more of it than Yonge and Eglinton, where last night’s party in his honour had him touring guests through the model suites. Surreal? Yes and fabulously so.