Fashion Fanfic: Inside Karl Lagerfeld’s Emoji Design Meeting

Karl Lagerfeld loves emojis.
Photo: Getty Images/emotiKARL/Photoshop: MTV/Maeve Keirans

In case you missed the marriage of everyone’s favorite two things (emojis and Karl Lagerfeld), Karl designed a set of emojis to coincide with the launch of his fragrance line. The app, which you can download now, is called emotiKARL and contains Karl-approved emojis, like various hands with fingerless leather gloves, the many emotions of Choupette, perfume bottles, and more. Since I have read, cherished, and savored a vast number of Karl interviews in my life, I am fairly confident I have an idea of how his emoji proposal meeting went down. Here is my fictional account of the meeting in our latest installation of Fashion Fanfic.

NB: In honor of Karl, I originally wrote this story in French. I have since translated it to English, though, so you don’t have to.

A group of 12 people sits around a large white table. They don’t speak, just sit, waiting as they have been for the last 45 minutes. Suddenly, a man in monochrome enters. It’s the man they had been waiting for: Karl Lagerfeld.

“Thank you all for coming. Sorry I am late, but, as you know, I am always late. Can someone get me a Diet Coke, please? This morning, as I soaked in my bath, I was struck, as I often am, by genius. There needs to be an art element to coincide with the highly anticipated launch of my fragrance. I do not send text messages—I am not someone who should be reached at all times—but I have heard much about these little pictures that are very popular. Emojis, I am told they are called. I do not need characters to express my emotions, but apparently others do. Fine. I want to design a line of emojis—I am a designer, after all—to debut at my perfume party. This morning, after my bath, I began sketching some of the symbols that should be included. The first figure I drew, of course, was that of Choupette. I know her face by heart, though, spoiled princess that she is, she was sitting next to me so I could compare my sketch to her actual face. It was flawless. From there I decided to sketch her with various emotions. Choupette, obviously, does not have any emotions. She is a cat. A flawless creature, but one that does not shed a tear. She does not ever blow a kiss. I am told, however, that these emojis must have variety, and so, I sketched variety.

As I looked down, I realized what my next drawing would be. Something that is quintessential Karl Lagerfeld, but also, expressive. A hand wearing a fingerless leather glove. I sketched the skin gray, of course—anything else would have been tacky. I sketched a number of gestures, all of which I am very familiar with myself, with the exception, of course, of holding a champagne flute. Maybe if the flute was filled with Diet Coke! Ha! I do not touch liquor, personally. There is a hand spraying perfume. My men’s fragrance, of course. The women’s scent doesn’t work on me, and I didn’t want it to touch my hand as I modeled the position.”

The man who had been sent to fetch Karl’s Diet Coke finally returns. Karl, who is not one to express excitement, had gotten so wrapped up in his morning’s work that he’d forgotten it had been twenty minutes without a drop of the sweet nectar touching his lips. He normally does not go that long without his favorite drink.

“Thank you. I could talk for hours about my p’tit bou de chou, Choupette. I barely even noticed how thirsty I was. Parched.”

The group sits in silence as Karl sips on the drink from a straw. They eye one another nervously, wondering if anyone is going to speak up. The party is less than two weeks away and none of them know anything about making emojis. They make clothes, not iPhone apps. Where was Céline, Karl’s social media guru, when you needed her? What Karl wanted Karl got, no matter how unreasonable. They’d have to find a way. Just as Sébastien, Karl’s driver and secretary, is about to speak up to ask if the group should be dismissed, Karl starts up again.

“There will, of course, be other characters, though I have not sketched them yet. I think there will be several of my face, not because I am that vain, but because I know my own profile and it would be wrong not to include it. If I can find the time to sketch a self-portrait, I will include that as well, as I am told the little faces are quite successful. We want this project to be a success, non?”

Everyone in the room nods, not because they’re afraid of Karl, but for their own various reasons. For some, it’s for fear of losing their jobs. For others, it’s because it would be genuinely useful to have emojis of Choupette and Karl to text to their friends and loved ones. “Eat without me. [Karl’s profile emoji] just left the studio. I’ll be home soon, unless [Choupette emoji] needs me to charge her iPad. I’ll let you know.” New additions to texts they send at least once a week. And then, there are those who simply nod because they don’t know what else to do.

“Good, we are all in agreement. I will have my sketches to you by Friday morning. How they are made and put onto phones I do not know, but I trust you will figure it out. I give you the art, you give me the technology. Thank you.”

Karl shuts his sketchbook with the perfect thud and walks out. He has a hotel to design.

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