This 'gift', found waiting on the seat of every fashion editor, stylist and buyer attending the Autumn/Winter 2004 Lagerfeld Gallery presentation last week, is not really a present born out of altruism. The credit-card-sized, black, plastic Canderel dispenser is more a directive from Karl Lagerfeld to his audience: 'lose some weight'.
Unlike most front-row freebies - usually make-up in unimaginable shades, vulgar shoppers or neckerchiefs that barely span the neck of an average nine year old - the Lagerfeld Canderel Dispenser bears no trace of the fashion in the show it accompanied. Rather than communicating visual information about the colours, textures or proportions of the designer's vision for the oncoming season, the piece shifts focus away from the models' bodies onto the famously diminished physique of the German designer himself.
Save for the logos of each brand, the only decorative touch on the stickers attached to each side of the case is a silhouetted portrait of Lagerfeld, sporting his signature ponytail, shades and newly-sculpted chin and throat. Neatly timed-in with the launch of 'The Karl Lagerfeld Diet' (published by Metro since January 2004), the dispenser simultaneously announces the designer's staggering weight-loss (a reported 42 kilos) and asserts that this gruelling route is the only way to attain fashionability this season.
One might assume that such a flagrant act of narcissism and an inflammatory comment on the politics of size could only be made in jest. Yet with designers such as Balenciaga making fewer and fewer garments in sizes as 'large' as a UK 12, Lagerfeld is only saying what his contemporaries are thinking. Turn the dispenser side-on and you notice that it is roughly a third of the width of an ordinary Canderel box. Lagerfeld's message to us is clear as day: 'The dispenser has lost weight, I have lost weight, so what's your excuse?'
Canderel dispenser, part of a set, by Lagerfeld Gallery at Colette Paris +33 1 55 35 33 90
Thanks to Fleur Britten