Leave it to Karl Lagerfeld to create a teddy bear that is imperious, lethally chic and yet totally endearing. Naturally it looks just like him, from the impenetrable black sunglasses and high shirt collar to the skinny lacquered jeans. But, plush alpaca head aside, is the resemblance more than skin-deep? “Bears are very nice, as long as you are nice to them,” mused Lagerfeld, as self-aware as he is iconic.
Steiff, the famous German maker of stuffed animals, is producing the limited-edition Karl bear, 2,500 of which will be launched in Neiman Marcus in September, for $1,500 a pop. Each boasts a signature Steiff gold button in the ear and five pivoting joints—an innovation Steiff unveiled at the 1903 Leipzig Toy Fair. Lagerfeld calls the Hamburg company’s longevity “incredible,” but he’s hardly surprised the toymaker dialed his number. The designer of Chanel, Fendi and Karl Lagerfeld collections has already been immortalized in a video game and as a lead figurine and plastic toy. Still, he has no desire to compete with Barbie and Ken. “Nothing scares me more than people with some doll collection. Frightening,” he said. But did he have a favorite teddy bear as a child? “Maybe I had one; I don’t remember. I never played with anything like toys. I wanted to be grown-up.”