"Shaped to be raped."
The idea is offensive, admits Karl Lagerfeld, author of the phrase and designer of the very successful collection it was meant to describe. Yet "it is only a word game," he said today. "I cannot resist a word game."
In fact, he did not attempt to translate the words into Italian for his show's program, as he has done with other ideas. Perhaps because of the language barrier, Lagerfeld's phrase caused no perceptible uproar.
Today was the second day of the spring shows here, and even for the most seasoned showgoer a tough one, with five major designers -- Missoni, Complice designed by Claude Montana, Gianfranco Ferre, Giorgio Armani, and Lagerfeld for Fendi -- filling the 12-hour workday.
After the Fendi show, the first of the day in Milan's Fiera, or fairgrounds, it was clear that there are enough ideas from Lagerfeld alone to fill the coming season. Among them: Tiny, colorful prints. Skinny, short, tight knit skirts. Long, equally skinny "trumpet" skirts that flare at the hem. Drapes, soft ties, free-form angles over very body-revealing lines.
"After so many oversized things, the return to shape is normal, don't you think?" observed the designer as he sipped white wine after the show.
He had arrived from Paris in a private plane earlier in the day and would return a few hours later. "I'm a behind-the-scenes person," said Lagerfeld, who along with the Fendi sisters stayed backstage to make sure everything for the show was in order.
One after another, the ideas poured forth: the colorful constructionist prints, the very short -- or very long -- lengths, the monochromatic shades, the mix of opaque and sheer fabrics, the mix of sequins and prints.
Ideas usually come quickly to him, Lagerfeld says, though he admits he must try some things three and four times. And every idea has its reason.
"Suddenly there was a need for prints again," he said. He got up at 6 one morning to cut out little pieces of color and glue them on paper. "It didn't take long. Suddenly you had to see prints again, just like you had to see legs."
That is why Lagerfeld is showing some of the shortest skirts around Milan so far. And some of the longest.
"People have done short skirts and long ones before, and pants," he said. "It is like music. There is a certain amount of notes, and you play your tune. You could hardly say you invented music."
Lagerfeld clearly enjoys what he plays, as was evident in the jacket he showed today that had only one lapel and sleeve. "That is a very naughty thing to do," he said, "to a beautifully tailored Italian blazer."