You don't have to be interested in fashion to be intrigued by Karl Lagerfeld. The German fashion designer, with his aviator specs, leather-clad shrunken frame, over-sized jewellery and eye-catchingly implausible pronouncements ("I have no human feelings," he recently told a journalist) is a worthy object of study for anthropologists and fashionistas alike.
The docu-film Lagerfeld Confidential offers a behind-the-scenes look into the curious world of a man who has clung to the top of the fashion tree for more than half a century, at the expense, one sometimes feels, of his soul.
Released to cinemas throughout the UK today, the film touches on his precocious early career, his bitter rivalry with Yves Saint Laurent, the painful demise of his friend the French aristocrat Jacques de Bascher from Aids in 1989 (of which he rarely speaks), and captures the toe-curling experience of being surrounded by a grovelling entourage who are culled as regularly as Bernard Matthews turkeys.
OK, the fact Lagerfeld is still working the fingerless leather gloves and ponytail at 74, long after most of his rivals have hung up their measuring tape, is impressive. But there is something a bit pitiful and Wizard of Oz-ish about his gold-plated solitude, the final proof of Lagerfeld's own dictum that: "fashion is ephemeral, dangerous and unfair".