PARIS (AFP) - Legendary fashion designer 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 his 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 designer wore his beard rather unkempt, with Harper's Bazaar saying it made him look "surprisingly (intentionally, we're sure) scruffy".
Social media was typically crueller. "Karl Lagerfeld growing out his beard. He looks like goth Santa Claus," one person commented on Twitter.
Lagerfeld first appeared with the growth at the Dior men's show on Saturday but 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 there to stay.
"It makes him look old," another Twitter user said of the octogenarian who is frequently accused of lying about his age.
But Lagerfeld friends jumped to his defence. Legendary Vogue critic Suzy Menkes said: "So Karl has an exciting new facial accessory. But tragically I cannot copy it," she wrote on Instagram.