PARIS • Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld almost upstaged his Chanel haute couture show on Tuesday when he turned up sporting a wispy white beard.
The first radical change in the Kaiser's image in nearly two decades - since he shed 41kg to squeeze into Hedi Slimane's skinny black jeans - set tongues wagging.
Much to the horror of many style watchers, the 84-year-old wore his beard rather unkempt, with Harper's Bazaar saying it made him look "surprisingly (intentionally, we're sure) scruffy".
Social media was typically more cruel. "Karl Lagerfeld growing out his beard. He looks like goth Santa Claus," one Twitter user commented.
When Lagerfeld first appeared with the beard at the Dior men's show last Saturday, many assumed he had not had time to shave amid the frantic preparations for the Chanel show, traditionally the highlight of the week.
But when he turned up with it again on Tuesday, it was clear it was here to stay.
"It makes him look old," another Twitter user said.
Lagerfeld's friend, Vogue critic Suzy Menkes, jumped to his defence. "So Karl has an exciting new facial accessory. But TRAGICALLY I cannot copy it," she wrote on Instagram.
Lagerfeld revealed five years ago that he dyes his hair - which he wears in a ponytail - to get it snow white.
"My hair is not really white. It's kind of greyish and I don't like the colour," he said. "So, I make it totally white with Klorane dry shampoo."