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The young director spent two years following the designer, capturing moments both very public (Lagerfeld escorting Nicole Kidman down the red carpet during Chanel's paparazzi-themed show in 2004) and very private (sketching quietly at night in his office, sans signature sunglasses). Marconi talked with WWD about convincing Chanel to let him shoot, dressing for a meeting chez Lagerfeld and getting the designer to kiss and tell.
WWD: What made you want to make this film?
Rodolphe Marconi: I always said if I make a documentary, it's going to be a portrait; who is for me the most interesting and funny person in France, and I thought about Karl. I loved him for 10 years.
WWD: Was it difficult to get him to do the project?
R.M.: I called [the Chanel press office] and they told me, "Sorry, but we have no time for you." I hate when someone says no. The day after, I called back, and after three months they called me and said, "You have lunch with Karl tomorrow at his house." So I went to his house midday, I was a little bit stressed. All night I try all my clothes on and I don't know what I'm going to wear to meet Karl. In the end, you always finish with jeans and a pullover.
WWD: And did he agree right off the bat?
R.M.: We stayed five hours and I left the house at 7 at night. And I said, "OK, bye-bye," and he said, "But when do you want to begin?" I didn't have any producer. But when Karl says yes, you begin.
WWD: What surprised you the most about him while you were filming?
R.M.: In two years I never heard him speak in a bad mood with somebody, never. He works all the time, but you never have the impression he's working. A lot of people who would work like him would say all day, "I'm tired, oh it's so difficult." He never did that. He always wants to give you the feeling everything is light, everything is easy.