“I never thought that I could fall in love with an animal like this”, Karl Lagerfeld told CNBC in 2017. “You have to see her. You would fall instantly in love with her because she’s unbelievable”.
In an industry populated by cat lovers (Grace Coddington and Giorgio Armani, to name a few), there’s one undisputed fashion queen among felines, who goes by the name of Choupette (meaning “sweetie” in French).
The enchanting sapphire-eyed Birman, who rose to world fame as Karl Lagerfeld’s beloved companion until his death in February 2019, is now the subject of a dedicated photography book, due to be published at the end of this month.
Entitled simply Choupette and shot entirely by Lagerfeld, the intimate tome is a love letter to the everyday joy of being a pet owner. Choupette is captured napping in an (undoubtedly priceless) urn and playing inside a cardboard box. While the book’s aesthetic may be minimalist, the same cannot be said for the lifestyle of Lagerfeld’s prized plus one.
Chopuette’s status as the world’s most pampered pussycat has become a metaphor (and many a meme) for the excesses and occasional absurdity of luxury fashion, spurring an unofficial social media phenomenon on @choupettesdiary. It takes not one, but a diligent team of round-the-clock carers to maintain Choupette in the manner to which she has grown accustomed.
“She’s like a chic lady…with her personal maid”, Lagerfeld revealed. “There’s a lot of things to do: to was her eyes five times a day, to brush her white hair…She’s a full time job”.
Then there’s the private jet. Having first been brought to public attention in 2013, the shot of a perennially collarless Choupette starting out of a window on Lagerfeld’s plane has since gone viral. And the new book offers further, previously unseen, proof of the cat’s indulgences – including a picture of her at 30,000 alongside two white orchids.
“It’s a wonderful life, I think so. She’s travelling with me and her maid when I go to another country. She’s never alone”, Lagerfeld explained to CNBC.
Beyond the rumours of a large inheritance, as instructed by the designer’s will, she has also amassed a fortune of her own from modeling jobs in Japan and Germany – a feat the designer credited to her coquettish looks.
In spite of this, the book is not an ode to extravagance. Instead, it signals a profound sense of gratitude on the part of the artist behind the lens. The four-footed fashion influencer wasn’t originally destined for the house of Chanel, but came into Lagerfeld’s life by chance via French model Batiste Giabiconi.
“A friend of mine gave (her) to one of my mates, saying I’m leaving for two days, could you keep (her) for two weeks?”, Lagerfeld said. “When he came back, I said, “I’m sorry Choupette is mine. I don’t give Choupette back”. And she became a world famous star”.
Beneath the fame and fortune there lies limitless adoration. When asked how Choupette had change his life, Karl Lagerfeld was unequivocal: “I think I became a better person. She gives energy, it’s very strange. When I have her next to me I feel like a telephone that is recharged”.
Choupette is published by Steidl and available to but from the end of November.