For four decades, Yves Saint Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld have been the reigning kings of fashion, internationally lionized designers celebrated for their good taste and impeccable style. But according to a new book, their lives have not been quite as glamorous as advertised. Alicia Drake‘s sprawling biography, The Beautiful Fall: Lagerfeld, Saint Laurent and Glorious Excess in 1970s Paris, exposes the true depths of the bitter rivalry between the living legends and the inner demons that plagued them.
When Lagerfeld recently obtained a copy, he fired off an angry letter to Drake, accusing her of making over 100 mistakes in the book’s description of his childhood. “There is this fantasy he has created and he has become that fantasy,” Drake tells Radar. “He disputes some details of his childhood and he’s upset that his fantasy has been exposed.”
According to Drake, even before his starvation diet, the famously insecure Lagerfeld had intense body issues that resulted in dramatic weight fluctuations and odd dietary ticks. At one point, he drank 15 bottles of Coke a day and constantly gorged on chocolates and cheese slices, which he kept in a mountainous pile on his desk at all times. In his thirties, he began working out four times a week in his private gym but eventually got “bored to death” and quit exercising altogether. Instead, he disguised his ballooning figure with an adjustable “over-blouse” he created for himself. According to Drake, his weight wasn’t the only thing he tried to disguise. While Lagerfeld claims he was born in 1928, the author unearthed proof he was born in 1933, though it’s unclear why he would inflate his age by five years.