"I’m the doorman of rue de L’Ile," said Lagerfeld Tuesday night, as he welcomed guests outside 7L, his bookstore there, for a cocktail in honor of Grace Coddington’s new book "Grace: Thirty Years of Fashion at Vogue."
Inside, co-host Anna Wintour talked with the who’s who of fashion insiders in Lagerfeld’s photo studio, where the walls had been plastered with thousands of images from the book — discarded pages from early printing tests. The vast collage gave the impression of the world’s most high-class — and, knowing Vogue, most high-priced — scrap book.
"It’s my life in pictures," Coddington said of her hefty tome. "Or my dream life, really." Friends including Valentino, Donna Karan, Arthur Elgort, India Hicks, Max Wigram and Phoebe Philo, Coddington’s former assistant Sophie Hicks and stylist Joe McKenna gushed over Coddington’s body of work and especially its signature romance and fantasy.
"I’m not sure they influenced me," said McKenna of first seeing Coddington’s photos, "but they certainly led me to want to be a part of this whole world."
Despite the 30-year perspective of the book, Lagerfeld insisted that it not be called a retrospective — Coddington is still hard at work. And she’d better not plan on retiring any time soon.
"Everybody wants to work with Grace," said Wintour. "Everybody."
Later, Coddington and some 60 friends arrived for dinner chez Karl, where the intensely lit dining room had more than a few guests reaching for their Chanel sunglasses.
"It’s movie lighting," explained Lagerfeld. "No shadows. Everyone looks great, no?"
As guests helped themselves from the buffet, one guest said she had found the real secret of Karl’s diet. His dinner plates were no more than 6 inches wide. Hamilton South said one looked like an ashtray.
After dinner, dancing ensued to the sounds of a Venezuelan band. Lagerfeld and Oscar de la Renta burned up the dance floor for a protracted hot tango — hot enough that Oscar appeared to be blushing.