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Karl Lagerfeld to be sued over 'fat' comments

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Karl Lagerfeld, creative director and head designer for fashion houses Chanel, Fendi and his own label, is facing legal action over his derogatory comments on ‘curvy women’.

Karl Lagerfeld

Lagerfeld appeared in an episode of Le Grand 8 on French television channel D8 on 4th October, and claimed: "The hole in social security, it's also [due to] all the diseases caught by people who are too fat," before reiterating his view that "no one wants to see curvy women on the runway."

These comments are far from shocking coming from Lagerfeld, who has previously stated that British singer Adele was "a little too fat" and that "it’s the fat women sitting in front of televisions with their pack of crisps who say slim models are hideous"; however, his words were one step too far for French women’s pressure group Belle, Ronde, Sexy et Je M'assume.

The group, whose name translates as  Beautiful, Rounded, Sexy and Ok With It, has filed a defamation claim against the fashion icon for his comments made during Le Grand 8, demanding "a right to respond to and confront" Lagerfeld and hoping to see him fined for his "defamatory and discriminatory comments" towards larger women.

Its president, Betty Aubriere, said: "We're fed up. Many young girls are insecure and hearing such comments is terrible for them. Today it's him who insults us and tomorrow who will it be?"  She added that the group is also fighting for ways to end bullying of overweight individuals in schools, and advocating awareness "so that people understand that curves are often an illness or genetic, and not due to a poor diet."

Lagerfeld himself lost 6½ stone over 13 months back in 2001, and published his book The Karl Lagerfeld Diet in 2004, so people could be forgiven for thinking that he might be a little more sympathetic with larger individuals; but, while his comments are undoubtedly offensive to many, nobody can accuse the man of being dishonest.  Lagerfeld has always been open about his own weight loss, saying: "I think that, for women as well as men, fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight. It is not a good idea to wait until you are ill or unhappy before going on a diet. I wasn't really giving in to a narcissistic impulse either. It was time for a change, that was all."

Lagerfeld’s outspoken nature may seem shocking to some, but the fashion industry’s bias against ‘plus-size’ runs far deeper than one man and his mouth. Despite a small rise in plus-size model competitions and models appearing in various fashion and lingerie ad campaigns, the truth is that larger models are still scarcely seen in catwalk shows and, for most, are only given minimal exposure in fashion magazines. 

The Huffington Post UK published comments from Rivkie Baum, co-founder of plus size boutique Slink and editor of Slink magazine, who said: "I get that same impression from fashion editors, who mostly make a nod to plus-size women once a year.  If 50% of women are size 16 and over, then that’s half of your readership you aren’t targeting and you aren’t caring about"

While targeting Lagerfeld might be a clever media move and attract attention in the short term, the matter of whether it has any lasting effect on fashion industry attitudes, or even gets as far as the courts, remains to be seen. 




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