Karl Lagerfeld: Zillions

Malcolm Venville's Crusade to Pose a Single Question to the Illustrious Designer at His Alpine Exhibition

There aren’t many people who you’d endure several flights, two long train journeys, exceedingly early wake-up calls and a soggy McDonald’s hamburger dinner to spend one minute with—but that’s how powerful the pull of fashion legend Karl Lagerfeld can be. And that pilgrimage is exactly what director Malcolm Venville undertook for a brief encounter with the Chanel and Fendi designer, artist, photographer and one-man cultural phenomenon in St. Moritz in February, where the polymath was revealing an exhibition at Galerie Gmurzynska. The series featured Lagerfeld’s new set of fire etchings on glass—based on portraits of his muses such as Theophilus London, Freja Beha Erichsen and Aymeline Valade—and evolved the Kaiser’s extraordinary photographic legacy, which has yielded not only a multitude of ad campaigns, but also groundbreaking books like The Metamorphosis of an American and The Beauty of Violence, both of which distilled the model-to-muse relationship, focusing respectively on male faces Brad Koenig and Baptiste Giabiconi. Navigating the alpine VIP frenzy, filmmaker Venville came straight up against the unrealistic expectations of the Kaiser’s media and creative schedule. Hence he delivered just one potent question, appealing to Lagerfeld’s savoir faire. “To borrow from Hamlet,” says Venville, “brevity is the soul of wit, and he couldn’t be more interesting in that respect.” The director would know, having helmed the films 44 Inch Chest starring John Hurt and Ray Winstone and Henry’s Crime with Keanu Reeves. “I felt there was a lot of power in his answer,” he says of Lagerfeld. “It’s all about the artistic process being intuitive and spontaneous.”  

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Conversations (5)

  • RobertRhodes
    He's the man! I loved him in this video too: <a href="http://bit.ly/1n390x9" target="_blank">http://bit.ly/1n390x9</a>
    • Posted By RobertRhodes
    • January 31, 2014 at 1:44PM
    • Share Comment:
  • mXdino
    Good stuff....one question a "zillion " answers!
    • Posted By mXdino
    • November 30, 2013 at 9:59AM
    • Share Comment:
  • Franco De Rose
    interesting man
  • Mikee Shattuck
    Awesome work!
  • YannY
    Hi 'Malcs'. Funny. Yann
    • Posted By YannY
    • April 18, 2013 at 4:26AM
    • Share Comment:

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  • Call for Submissions
    Call for Submissions

    Shorts on Sundays: Waterpark

    Our New Open Call For Experimental Films Launches With Evan Prosofsky's Directorial Debut

    Artificial waves crash and swimsuit-clad patrons frolic in the strange suburban utopia of World Waterpark in Alberta, Canada, in cinematographer Evan Prosofsky’s first directorial effort, launching an open call for submissions to our new Shorts on Sundays series via the NOWNESS Vimeo channel. The aquatic playground cast as the uncanny protagonist in Waterpark is located inside the West Edmonton Mall, North America’s largest shopping destination. “I never seemed to adjust to the absurdity,” says the director of shooting in his hometown’s famous fantasyland. “Even as a kid, I just couldn’t believe we had flamingos, submarines, roller coasters, and pirate ships in our mall.” The increasingly sought-after cinematographer became known as the lensman behind several of last year’s most shared music videos, including Grimes’ “Oblivion,” Bat for Lashes’ “All Your Gold” and Grizzly Bear’s “Yet Again.” Sound features prominently in Waterpark, too, with the soundtrack composed by Prosofsky’s friend Alex Zhang Hungtai, aka Dirty Beaches, infusing the innocent family environment with a seductive, contemplative undertone. “[Evan] told me of his experience there as a child,” says the Taiwanese-born Canadian musician of the effort. “That helped me understand his perspective, and I liked how neutral and non-judgmental it was.” Shot over a span of three years, the labor of love hints at the anxiety that lays dormant behind an otherwise glossy North American leisure culture. “Once I was in there,” Prosofsky recalls of shooting in plain view. “No one paid me the slightest bit of attention.” We asked Emily Kai Bock to share her thoughts on her collaborator's uncommon vision and process.

    Waterpark is an early glimpse into the way Evan has structured his life around the craft of cinematography—being a typical teen working at the West Edmonton mall, but using his money and time off to go to the expense of documenting the space for hours on 16mm. It's rare to find that kind of devotion and love for the craft with a cinematographer. I've led him into many situations on several videos where his equipment could have been confiscated or ruined by the conditions. When we were shooting Grizzly Bear's "Yet Again" I remember watching him as he read the manual for a HydroFlex underwater housing before dropping it into a swimming pool with his own 35mm camera inside. The camera was safe, but it demonstrated that getting the shot was more valuable to him then his own equipment. His knowledge has provided an unwavering buoyancy through our sink-or-swim shoots. 

    Visit the NOWNESS Vimeo page for more information on how to submit to our Shorts on Sundays open call.

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    Mario's Meats

    Chef Batali Gets Serious About Butchery For His Latest Venture Chi Spacca

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