Very few of the many people Middleton interviewed, famous and not, have anything bad to say about [Chanel's] resurrector ... He’s a rich subject, in all senses of the word, but occupied an increasingly corporatized world that can make for stretches of arid reading ... If you have an appetite for Lagerfeld lore, Paradise Now will sate it and then some. But you must submit, like a child, to a candyland of escapist excess.
Even time-worn tales of merciless culls of friends and colleagues sound fresh in this recounting. Mr. Middleton lets Lagerfeld do the talking ... This feather-light succession of vignettes from “Lifestyles of the Rich and Peremptory” goes down as easily as Vanity Fairs at the salon. Alas, few Lagerfeld acolytes share his recall or waspish wit and gas on hazily, adding little.
Middleton has quotes from a vast array of sources, from Lagerfeld’s butler to Anna Wintour ... I’m not convinced we needed quite so much about his research into French intellectual life in the 17th century, or that a particular marquee was 'more like a medium-sized auditorium', or the square footage of all his various homes. There’s a lot in this book that will only be of interest to the most dedicated Lagerfeld fans. But there’s much to enjoy, and it explains a lot about his life and times that he consciously modelled them on an 18th-century painting of Frederick the Great entertaining intellectuals and artists at a Prussian palace.
William Middleton, its author, certainly has the fashion chops: he used to head the Paris bureau of Women’s Wear Daily. But the trouble with insiders is that their respect is usually too ardent, and their need to remain on good terms with their world’s big names too powerful, for the distance required of biography. Yes, he gives us in its entirety the long reign of Kaiser Karl.
With few criticisms, Middleton offers rich descriptions of Lagerfeld’s designs, outfits, and extravagant shows as well as the famous, beautiful, and affluent people who surrounded him ... An authoritative and admiring portrait of a fashion icon.