The Mysterious Mr Lagerfeld review – BBC documentary film

When the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld died in 2019, he “was eulogised as the last of the old guard”, said Rebecca Nicholson in The Guardian. This feature-length BBC documentary aims to “demystify the man behind those famous sunglasses” – and it does so with panache. 

Directed by Michael Waldman, the film gives a “rounded picture” of an individual who could be exceedingly generous to those who were “in”, and ruthless to those who were “out”. Many of Lagerfeld’s inner circle talk about him here publicly for the first time, and there is also archive footage of Lagerfeld reflecting on his own life, from taking over at Chanel (Coco was “a mean bitch; I have nothing against mean bitches”), to his reinvention of himself as a celebrity. The film is “gossipy and serious, thorough and frothy, and the 90 minutes breeze by”. 

It helps that Lagerfeld himself was a scream, said Anita Singh in The Daily Telegraph. There are also some wonderful interviewees. For instance, Carine Roitfeld, the former editor-in-chief of French Vogue, informs us that Lagerfeld’s cat once deliberately destroyed a scarf that she’d given him for Christmas: “Choupette is not a nice girl.” It’s all very frivolous, but great fun. 

It’s “zippy” all right, said Carol Midgley in The Times, but there are things I would have liked to have heard more about, such as Lagerfeld’s “visceral hatred of fatness”. He was notorious for having said that Adele was too fat; but he even judged the supermodel Heidi Klum to be “simply too heavy”.

Where to watch: BBC iPlayer