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Behind the dark glasses: The world of Karl Lagerfeld

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Karl Lagerfeld talks fashion
  • German-born fashion designer is one of the most recognizable figures in fashion
  • Has been creative force behind Chanel for over 25 years
  • Told CNN he thinks little of the past, successes or failures, focused on the present
  • "I am born for the battlefield. Competition is healthy," he told CNN

(CNN) -- He is perhaps the most recognizable man in fashion, almost never seen without his dark glasses, a silver ponytail and fingerless gloves.

And while the German-born fashion designer has been the creative force behind fashion house Chanel for more than a quarter of a century, he's still thriving on new ideas, designs and what the future may hold.

"I don't look back... Life is not something made by order, we have to fit in the pattern of what life is all about now, and I'm a person who fits easily into this kind of situation because I like change," he told CNN in Shanghai.

While his own image is enduring, he is the creative force of the Chanel fashion house, whose eponymous designer, Coco Chanel created some of the most iconic outfits of the 20th century.

He may have upset the traditionalists when he first took over the reins, but for the forward-thinking Lagerfeld, it was not a concern.

Video: Online exclusive: Karl Lagerfeld
Show times
Wednesday, December 23: 13.30 GMT (21.30 Hong Kong Time)
Thursday, December 24: 04.30 GMT (12.30 HKT)
Saturday, December 26: 12.00. 20.30 GMT (20.00 Saturday, 04.30 Sunday HKT)
Sunday, December 27: 09:30, 23.30 GMT (17.30 Sunday, 07.30 Monday HKT)

"My job is to put in people's brain the idea what Chanel was all about, even if it was not about such a large choice of things... I pushed [Coco Chanel's] symbol, like the change of pearls, in a way much more than she did herself. I could play with everything and mix it with everything that's going on in fashion because fashion is about that. It's not retrospective, it has to be something you want to wear now," he said.

As for the notoriously harsh world of fashion, Lagerfeld sees it merely as a reflection of the way the world works.

"This is a world with no pity or that you can complain, 'I couldn't do it because things are against me.' No, things are against nobody, if you have something to offer, or if you can be something," he said.

"If you want to be successful in the fashion world, as well as the movie world and music world, it's something else that you need, but you cannot decide that you have it. It's up to you to sew it, but it's up to the others to use it. In a way it's the worst of worlds, but if you made in the world, it's beyond pleasant."

Confident and unabashed Lagerfeld is looking forward to more creative inspiration and hard work. His contracts with Chanel and Fendi are for life.

"Chanel died doing her last collection in her 90s, so I have time. I don't think like this. It's my projection, always six months, six months, six months. I don't know. People laugh at me to disappear but I'm not ready for that one.

"I am born for the battlefield. Competition is healthy you know. Some people would like the idea of no competition so they can keep the position for the rest of their lives, but no, there has to be a kind of danger all the time. I think it's very healthy, it makes you better."

Watch the full Talk Asia show with Karl Lagerfeld on CNN from Wednesday, December 23.