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BOOK REVIEW 

THE KARL LAGERFELD DIET
By Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Claude Houdret
PowerHouse Books 

 

By Antoine du Rocher

NEW YORK, 12 DECEMBER 2005 —While it is unwise to judge the contents of a book by its cover, Karl Lagerfeld's new diet book appears to be the exception to the rule.

The startling photograph of the German designer for Chanel shot in profile against a white background, dressed in a black sports jacket and snug-fitting blue jeans, suggests a dramatic and almost incredible weight loss. Lagerfeld claims to have returned to his teen-age waist size of 26 in order to fit into current male fashion styles.

The couturier attributes his astonishing weight-loss to a diet devised by a French physician, Dr. Jean-Cluade Houdret—on which he lost more than eighty pounds in thirteen months. Whatever the effect of the designer's signature dark glasses, fan and passion for the asesthetics and decorative arts of the French 18th century, anyone familiar with the Paris fashion scene will remember Karl Lagerfeld as a big man, with a beefy body akin to that of a retired weight lifter, or American football player who liked to eat.

This is not a coincidence. As a younger man, little known to the main-stream public, Lagerfeld was an amateur bodybuilder who trained for years in a Paris gym frequented by gigolos who needed to stay in shape for their clients. He admits as much in a tell-all interview that is part of the book.

In fact, much of the nutritional advice in this book is common knowledge among competitive bodybuilders. This information is further enhanced by the medical arguments and recommendations of Dr. Houdret.

For those already knowledgeable about diet and nutrition, the book  has an added advantage in its chapters devoted to diet-friendly and seasonal recipes and menus of French inspiration where manifestly one can continue to enjoy a variety  of meats, sauces, pasta and desserts, rather than the usual bland regimen of grilled fish, salad and fruit.  And while alcohol is not recommended, the book has sensible advice on wine consumption, notably red without unfavorably increasing one's daily caloric intake as in the case of champagne and white wines.

Lastly, Lagerfeld and Dr. Houdret have included useful, albeit cursory,  chapters on fitness training and cosmetic care of the face and body for a diversity of ethnic skin types during radical weight-loss.  Such dramatic weight-loss can add years to already mature faces in the process, unless this aspect of the regime is carefully managed.

Although it is unlikely that many readers will want to commit to such a draconian regimen in the midst of the holiday season, this diet could prove useful for those with New Year's resolutions for a similar radical change of their silhouette. Order it now, turn to it as your hangover fades...

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The Karl Lagerfeld Diet
by Karl Lagerfeld, Jean-Claude Houdret
PowerHouse Books, New York (2005)
Paperback 224 pages with an illlustrated dietary pull out chart
30 photographs and illustrations
ISBN: 1-57687-251-3
$19.95

Antoine du Rocher is a French cultural journalist and writer based in New York. He is also a member of the editorial board of Culturekiosque.com



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