MAY 2005

I was in New York City for the launch of the Chanel exhibit in the Costume Institute at the Museum of Metropolitan Art. We were told not to expect to speak to creative director Karl Lagerfeld so I was stunned when I was asked if I wanted to sit down and interview him - in 5 minutes.

Flustered and freaked out - this is a man who does not suffer fools gladly - my first thought was to try to make him laugh. I can't remember what I said but he chuckled and then told me he admired my trench coat - a new design in Gwen Stefani's fledgling label. I thought he would hate celebrity designers but he gave it his seal of approval ... and the interview was a big success from that point. He even told his handlers to go away when they gave him a time check.

I can't remember the details of our chat but this one quote stood out. When I asked him why Chanel spent so much money on all of their runway spectacles, he told me that money thrown out the window always comes back through the door. And since then, that has been one of my philosophies of luxury fashion.u00a0

And more than 10 years later, Lagerfeld continues to control the conversation about global luxury ... and that's an accomplishment no other living designer can claim.