Return to Transcripts main page


Fashion Backstage Pass: Marc Jacobs Rumored to Take over Fashion Design at Christian Dior; Karl Lagerfeld Discusses Designing for Chanel; Alber Elbaz Interviewed; Christian Louboutin Sues for Exclusive Rights of Red Shoe Sole Design

Aired October 15, 2011 - 14:30   ET


ALINA CHO, HOST: Welcome to a special edition of FASHION BACKSTAGE PASS. I'm Alina Cho.


CHO: We are coming to you from Paris, the birthplace of fashion. In the city of light, it is clear it is less about who is in the front row and all about the clothes on the runway. The shows themselves are spectacles. The biggest story out of Paris right now, who will take the reins at Christian Dior? Could the rumors be true? Could Marc Jacobs be it?

Have you made a decision? May I ask you that?

What the CEO of Dior told me.

And they are the red-soled shoes to the stars made famous by "Sex and the City" and Oprah Winfrey.

OPRAH WINFREY, TV TALK SHOW HOST: I have them in my closet and they are like little pieces of sculpture.

CHO: Now the designer behind them is suing to protect what he calls his trademark.

CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN, SHOE DESIGNER: I do not own that. I own red soles on the back of my shoes.

CHO: Christian Louboutin also gave me a rare peek inside his studio.


CHO: But first, an exclusive look inside Chanel. It's arguably the most famous fashion brand in the world with a designer who is just as famous, Karl Lagerfeld. For nearly three decades he's been the creative force behind the massive Chanel machine. But hawking soda and home appliances? You won't believe what else he is doing.


CHO: Not just in France but around the world Karl Lagerfeld is mobbed wherever he goes. He's not just a celebrity designer. He's a celebrity.

What do you think it is that people are so fascinated by?

KARL LAGERFELD, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, CHANEL: I don't know what it is. I think it is flattering. I don't sing. I'm not an actor. I have no scandals.

CHO: He does do this.

Lagerfeld's Chanel show is arguable the most anticipated fashion spectacle of the Paris collections, something he has been doing since 1983, when he was hired as artistic director.

It is so much work. It is so many collections. And you are so involved.

LAGERFELD: I have it in the blood. When I was asked to do it, Chanel wasn't trendy at all. Like this, I am not proud of the business. If you make something, OK. If not, I sell it. And we make something out of it because he gave me the freedom.

Lagerfeld answers to no one, rare for a company the size of Chanel, a nearly $2 billion privately owned business that sells not just those iconic quilted handbags and ballerina flats, but clothes, jewelry, makeup, and perfume, you know, Chanel, number five, the one that Marilyn Monroe famously said she went to bed with, an icon just like the company's founder, Coco Chanel.

LAGERFELD: The name has an image. It is up to me to update it.

CHO: Lagerfeld made Chanel cool again.

LAGERFELD: I had to find my mark and go from what it was, what it should be, what it could be, what it had been, to something else. It sounds very complicated but, in fact, it is not.

CHO: What makes you do that?

LAGERFELD: I don't know. I have a flash like that. I don't ask questions. I get answers, I don't know from where. When I make big efforts, it's for the garbage can. When I make no effort and suddenly it happens. It is much better. You cannot count on it. Sometimes you work a lot for the garbage can for nothing, and then, suddenly, a light goes on.

CHO: And it can happen at any time. In addition to his duties at Chanel, he is the creative director of Fendi, has his own label, and this season launched a line the at Macy's. He's an avid photographer, an author, and owns a bookstore. Outside of fashion, Lagerfeld has designed bottles for Coca-Cola, and here he is in an ad for a washer and dryer. How does he do it all?

LAGERFELD: I have a kind of Alzheimer's for his own work. I do that on purpose, because today too many people remember what they did. Forget it all and start again. CHO: Even at twice the age of his competitors, it's an attitude that has served him well, made him rich and virtually irreplaceable at Chanel.

LAGERFELD: So in fact it's a good thing for them, it's a good thing for me, and it's not such a bad thing for the profession.


CHO: There is one designer Karl Lagerfeld says could replace him, and this season he's our designer to watch.


CHO: Fashion's man of the moment is Haider Ackerman. This Columbian born designer first presented his namesake line in 2002. Lately he is the designer everyone in fashion is talking about.

Who is your woman?

HAIDER ACKERMAN, DESIGNER TO WATCH: I don't want to think there is only one woman or just to analyze her like one category. That means you are not democratic. I think she belongs to all kinds of women.

CHO: Ackermann's most resent collection for spring 2012 was the toast of Paris.

ACKERMAN: He has such a sense of color. It is really extraordinary. Not since Yves San Lauren have I seen such clean colors.

CHO: A man who shows his colors on a long runway, taking his time so people can see him. Our designer to watch, he is also Karl Lagerfeld's pick as the man to replace him at Chanel.

How does that feel?

ACKERMAN: How can you feel? It is Mr. Lagerfeld.

CHO: Coming up, it's the biggest story out of Paris. Who will replace John Galliano as the next designer of Christian Dior? It's the open secret in fashion Marc Jacobs has the job -- or does he? We speak to Marc Jacobs and Dior's CEO. But first, without them, there wouldn't be any runway shows. It is the models that bring the clothes to life. American, Karlie Kloss is the biggest. Just 19 years old, she is one of the most coveted models in the world.

KARLIE KLOSS: Paris is unique. It is art. It is truly art. It is so beautiful. Just being here is inspiring. You become part of the art. It is sort of the fun of fashion week. You transform with the hair and makeup and become part of the collection.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Paris, Paris, all the collections and with the new designer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where the business of fashion happens.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For me, French girls are very nonchalant, very effortless.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is called uni-pants, and it's an invention in fashion for the 21st century.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is all about ambience, about atmosphere of the fashion, all the details, that's the luxury.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is a very creative world and when you make a convention of very fun.

CHO: From what they are wearing on the streets of Paris to what they are talking about here, who will be the next designer of famed French fashion house, Christian Dior? It is fashion's biggest parlor game. And there is a lot at stake here, not just Dior's future, but the pride of France.


CHO: This carousel of fashion on display at Marc Jacob's fashion for Louis Vuitton may have been a wink and a nod for what's swirling around him, the rumors he could be the next designer. His previous designer John Galliano's anti-Semitic remarks got him fired back in March. In the horserace to replace him, Marc Jacobs is in the lead.

SIDNEY TOLEDANO, PRESIDENT AND CEO, DIOR: It all comes from the hands. He is very human.

CHO: You know who has magic hands is Marc Jacobs.


CHO: Magic hands, what do you say to that?

JACOBS: I have normal hands, five fingers on each of them, and one of them doesn't work very well.

CHO: Have you made a decision? May I ask you that?

TOLEDANO: As I say, the people who knows are not talking, and the one who are talking are not knowing.

CHO: Dior's CEO Sidney Toledano says the world will know in a few weeks.

HAMISH BOWLES, EUROPEAN EDITOR-AT-LARGE, VOGUE: The French take a proprietary interest in the future.

CHO: Christian Dior founded his fashion house in 1946, introducing flowers and voluptuous shapes far different from the boxy World War II fashions that had been in fashion. After he died, his assistant, Yves Saint Laurent took over, launching his career. But it was John Galliano in the '90s that brought glamour back to the house of Dior. For 23 years he worked with his right hand, Bill Gaytten, now creative director of Galliano's own label and also designing Dior until a permanent designer is named.

CHO: How does that feel to be thrust into the limelight?

BILL GAYTTEN, HEAD OF STUDIO, DIOR: It was a little bit alarming at first. It was unexpected and it was a shock for everyone. But I'm getting used to it quickly. It's a steep learning curve.

CHO: And Marc Jacobs?

JACOBS: Did you like it?

SUZY MENKES, FASHION EDITOR INTERNATIONAL HERALD TRIBUNE: Marc Jacobs has a tremendous following. He has the cool and he also has the experience.

CHO: In addition to his successful namesake label, Jacobs has already revitalized another brand Louis Vuitton, transforming a hand bag company into something much more.

RON FRASCH, PRESIDENT SAKS FIFTH AVENUE: Suddenly, the brand exploded. It was on the right people. People wanted to look that way. It was on the models and the actresses.

CHO: The fashion world believes Jacobs could do the same for Dior. He reportedly wants $10 million a year. If ever there was a tryout, insiders say he named this with this collection for Vuitton. Backstage it was emotional. One top editor called it a sweet farewell and a fashion moment to remember.


CHO: Up next, the man at the helm of the oldest fashion house in the world, the designer who almost quit fashion to become a doctor. Instead, he brought Lanvin back to life.


ALBER ELBAZ, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR, LANVIN: You see I don't have to be a doctor. They will give you Tylenol. I will give you a red dress.



CHO: My interview with fashion's most beloved designer is next.

And Americans in Paris - it is not just a saying. This season in fashion, it is true.


CHO: For these 10 lucky designers, it is a dream come true. PRABAL GURUNG, DESIGNER: To be able to come to Paris and showcase your collection and create a presence here kind of lets the world know that we are here.

CHO: The initiative sponsored by the council of fashion designers of America and "Vogue" magazine is an opportunity for up and coming designers to get their wares in front of international editors and buyers, something that's difficult to do from New York.

BILLY REID, DESIGNER: When we were invited, we were, like, yes, this is our chance to get the clothes in front of people. They have no idea what we are about or have never seen a piece of our clothing.

CHO: Eddie Borgo has been designing jewelry for six years. Being part of this initiative is a way for him, he hopes, to double his business.

EDDIE BORGO, JEWELRY DESIGNER: You really have an opportunity in Paris to get one-on-one time with them, walk them through the collection, walk them through your process, which is priceless. It is fantastic.


CHO: Welcome back to fashion backstage pass. We are coming to you from the city I like to call La Plu Deville Dumont, Paris. You may be surprised to hear that the oldest fashion house in the world is not Chanel or Dior, but Lanvin. It's been around since 1889. But a decade ago, it needed a facelift. So Albert Elbaz came to the rescue, transforming Lanvin into a fashion powerhouse.


CHO: He may not look the part but Lanvin's Alber Elbaz has the face of a cherub and the golden touch.

ELBAZ: Fashion is like a fruit. It has to be ripe for moment.

Try these ones.

CHO: This 50-year-old designer has been making clothes for the moment as creative director for Lanvin for 10 years, resurrecting a label with a good name but not much else into a luxury fashion force.

CHO: You came to Paris just for him.

JULIANNE MOORE, ACTRESS: Yes, yes, actually. I think if you are going to see a show, his work is so spectacular, he is going to be worth it.

CHO: And they do come, because Elbaz is able to do in fashion what few others can -- create clothes that wow but don't scream at you.

You say your work is like a whisper. Explain that.

ELBAZ: I think that whispering is something very personal because when someone whisper to you, they have to get really close to you. And this is a very intimate relationships.

CHO: Clothes both customers crave and critics adore. All around there were raves for his latest collection for spring 2012.

GLENDA BAILEY, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, HARPER'S BAZAAR: These clothes, as soon as you put them on, you feel really good about yourself.

CHO: A trendsetter too. So much so when he created an affordable line for H&M last year, it sold out. This season, Elbaz launched clothes for kids with three to four figure price tags, miniature copies of mom's clothes from the most coped designer on the planet.

CHO: How do you know that you have made it? How do you define success?

ELBAZ: I don't. Oh, I never know. First of all, I think I am always the worse. Until the day before I think it is going to be a flop and I am like totally depressed. Someone said that, you know, success is like a perfume. If you smell it, it is good. If you drink it, it is not good for you.

CHO: Elbaz says the collection isn't ready until the clothes speak to him.

ELBAZ: I see the world. When the dress tell me she is OK and she doesn't want to go elsewhere, I know I have to leave her alone and let go.

CHO: A designer who creates not just clothes but a sensation.

When you see a woman walking down the street wearing a Lanvin dress, how do you feel?

ELBAZ: That touches me the most. I feel they chose me. And I find it very, very personal. I just want to go and hug them and say thank you for doing that.

CHO: Coming up, the man behind the most iconic shoes in the world.

LOUBOUTIN: You have that and ding and it transforms the person from head to toe. A pair of shoes are a bit like that.

CHO: Christian Louboutin gives me a rare peak inside his studio, what he is doing to make sure no one else can cope the red-soled shoes. But first, the beauty trend that traveled from New York to Milan to right here in Paris. It even surprised the most sought-after makeup artist in the industry.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to say, this is the one season I have seen that hair-down look travel all the way through which has never really happened before.

CHO: So what does that say to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Put more foundation in and use it a lot.

CHO: Thank you.


CHO: He calls it a happy accident. Now, it's what Christian Louboutin is known for -- red soled shoes. There so popular there are lines outside his stores in Paris, so iconic, Louboutin he is suing to make sure no one else can cope them. He gave me a rare peak inside his studio where the magic happens.

CHO: Made famous by Jennifer Lopez and "Sex and the City," Christian Louboutin is the shoemaker to the stars, a man who doesn't just talk the talk. He walks the walk, the designer behind those iconic red- soled shoes.

LOUBOUTIN: You go ding and then it comes the person from head to toe.

CHO: They are on Oprah, Beyonce, and the first lady of France, those dangerously high heels women literally fall for because they are sexy.

LOUBOUTIN: The element of seduction is always important.

CHO: Louboutin has a huge business -- 44 boutiques in 19 countries. In September he opened a men's store. And this year alone, he sold 700,000 pairs of shoes. But don't call them comfortable.

LOUBOUTIN: This is the only compliment that has come out of the design, I would be unhappy. I have nothing against it but it is another thing I am sort of fighting for.

CHO: So what are you fighting for?

LOUBOUTIN: Beauty. That's different.

CHO: Beauty doesn't come cheap. Louboutin's shoes start at $395 and can skyrocket to $6,000, more if they're custom made.

CHO: These are 4,200 euros, nearly $6,000 U.S. Why?



CHO: This is his laboratory. He sketches about 400 to 500 styles. About 150 are produced. Each pair is carefully handmade, taking anywhere from a day to a year to make. And on the walls, Mademoiselle Renee Zellweger.

LOUBOUTIN: This is a bit of a secret.

CHO: Shoe molds for his a-list clients.

Louboutin is celebrating 20 years in business with a commemorative book and a lawsuit against Yves Saint Laurent, which recently came out with, you guessed it, a red-soled shoe. Louboutin lost the suit but has appealed, insisting he owns the trade park.

LOUBOUTIN: You cannot say that you can own the color. I do not own the color. I own a red-lacquered sole on the back of my shoes.

CHO: Just how did he come up with the idea for the red soles? Loubuotin says an assistant who happened to be painting her nails.

LOUBOUTIN: I grabbed her nail polish and polished the sole which became red. The minute it became red, it popped out.

CHO: Throw them on but run at your own risk.

LOUBOUTIN: It is not a good thing to run through life. I appreciate that.

CHO: Appreciate shoes, beautiful shoes.


CHO: On a personal note, take a look at one of my most prized souvenirs from my time in Paris, this signed sketch from Christian Louboutin. Look closely on the heel -- CNN.

Finally, the most unlikely of designers in Paris this season. Music icon Kanye West debuted his ready-to-wear collection, and the critics weren't kind. Famed fashion editor of the "International Herald Tribune" Suzy Menkes said it did not inspire the fashion crowd to tell him to give up his day job, and a celebrity tag does not cut it in Paris.

Here is what did inspire, my top five picks from the Paris collections. This rose-colored tulle dress from Lanvin, this Navy eyelet coat from Louis Vuitton, this colorful look from Haider Ackermann, this printed dress from Carven, and this magnificent silver-embroidered gown from Sarah Burton from Alexander McQueen.

We are so glad you were with us for this special edition of FASHION BACKSTAGE PASS. I'm Alina Cho, thanks for watching, et bons baisers de Paris.