Chanel's head designer Karl Lagerfeld says he thinks the founder of the iconic French fashion house would have “hated” him if they had ever met.
Lagerfeld said he had been a “rude awakening” for the prestigious fashion house, which had “grown dusty” before his arrival in 1982.
“I never bumped into Coco Chanel. It was better that way, she would have hated me,” he told an audience of hundreds of French college students at a masterclass in Paris on Tuesday.
“You have to respect things, but if you want to survive, you have to change them,” he said, recalling how he had “pushed” and “exaggerated” classic Chanel themes.
The couture house this year marked the 100th anniversary of the opening of Gabrielle 'Coco' Chanel's first shop in Deauville in the summer of 1913.
Today the label, whose founder died in 1971, has 300 outlets including 185 boutiques in cities such as Sao Paulo, Calgary, New Delhi, Istanbul and Brisbane.
Its creative director Lagerfeld also heads design for Fendi as well as running his own label fashion house, and is famous for his prodigious output.
On Tuesday he joked that was “pushing for a 48-hour day” because he was constantly pressed for time.
“Some people say elegance is dead. They're wrong. It has a new face,” he told the students.
“It's up to us to adapt to the changing times and not the other way around,” said Lagerfeld. “What counts is today.”
Lagerfeld's date of birth has long been a mystery, however in an interview earlier this year he said he was born in 1935.
He also advised the students, from the prestigious Sciences Po school in Paris, not to focus solely on their studies.
“Education is good, but it's not enough,” said Lagerfeld, who left his home in Germany at just 16 to work in the Paris fashion industry. “I never studied, I didn't have time.”