Talk about the cat’s meow. The legendary fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s pampered 7-year-old kitty (whose name means “sweetheart” in English) reportedly boasts a personal driver, maids, an iPad, a $400 Dyson Supersonic hair dryer, and loves playing with shopping bags. While it remains to be seen what chunk of Lagerfeld’s estimated $200 million+ fortune Choupette will receive, there’s no doubt that she won’t be left wanting for catnip.
In an interview with Numero magazine last April, Lagerfeld said “I’ve asked to be cremated and for my ashes to be dispersed with those of my mother…and those of Choupette, if she dies before me.” When asked whether the beloved cat would be the heir to his fortune, he said: “Among others, yes. Don’t worry, there is enough for everyone.”
But what will happen to his furry friend's popular, unofficial Choupette’s Diary blog and social accounts that date to 2012 and have tracked every paw swipe of her glamorous jet-setting life (in a Louis Vuitton carrier, no less)? A post on the Birman breed’s Instagram page (that counts 260,000 followers) announced on Wednesday, the day after Lagerfeld died, that Choupette is “going into mourning” and hopes to “put my best paw forward in my future without Daddy @KarlLagerfeld & as my own woman.”
Ashley Tschudin, the savvy social media strategist behind Choupette’s Diary who is now a star in her own right (and whose grandfather happens to be Academy Award-winning actor Rod Steiger), talked to The Hollywood Reporter about her unique window into Lagerfeld’s life and what’s next.
Tell us about your background.
Tschudin: I was a journalism major who landed in social media when I first started my own blog over ten years ago. At that time, social media wasn't taught in school, nor was it a career path. From the personal blog, I then created Choupette's Diary and that opened doors in my career to pursue social media professionally in publishing, at agencies, and now on my own as a digital consultant.
What made you think that you could take on the voice and persona of Choupette?
I had read an article about her having two maids and flying on a private jet and her personality just came to me: sassy, outspoken, and satirical. She was a spoiled pussy, whose maids and Daddy (Karl Lagerfeld) pampered her every need.
I understand that you have or had a chihuahua. Have you ever had your own cat?
I think you're the first person to ever actually ask about my real-life pets and know about my 14-year-old Chihuahua, Roscoe! I [also] have two pit bulls, which most people are shocked to learn as they expect me to be a cat lady. However, I had both cats and dogs growing up and animals have always been a huge part of my life.
Did you ever meet Karl or Choupette in person or communicate with him directly?
When I first started the Twitter account in 2012, his team reached out via email to find out who I was. Karl Lagerfeld never directly contacted me himself. I always expected a scenario where I would run into Karl at an event and introduce myself finally as "Choupette.” Unfortunately, that day and that opportunity never came for me.
Did Karl or his team ever make suggestions for topics for you to post about?
No, I have full creative control over the @ChoupettesDiary social media and blog since it is a personality.
Where did you get the imagery? Was someone feeding you photos?
The content creation aspect of the account was always the most challenging. Nobody ever just emailed me crisp hi-res photos of Choupette; it was a lot of sourcing and scouring the web. I believe that, had I been provided more content, the account and brand would be even larger than it is today in terms of following and engagement.
What do you think that Choupette will miss most about her daddy?
I believe Choupette will miss not only Daddy Karl's love and affection, but also all the adventures he took her on. She traveled the world, meeting some of the most brilliant minds in fashion and that's not an opportunity even most humans have.
What do you think will happen to Choupette; will she possibly live with Lagerfeld’s godson, Hudson Kroenig, or her first owner [French model] Baptiste Giabiconi, who Lagerfeld reportedly stole her away from?
I am not sure when or where this "stolen" rumor came about, but Baptiste Giabiconi gifted Choupette to Karl after a trip where Karl babysat her and fell head over heels for the feline. I think there is a lot of speculation surrounding what will happen to Choupette and I wish I had the answer. There was once a Sex and the City episode where Charlotte fell in love with a woman's show dog at the park and a few days later the dog appeared at her doorstep in a basket with a bow atop its head. In my wild imagination, I pictured Choupette showing up on my doorstep in a similar situation. How would that be for a turn of events?!
Have any stars reached out to you or reacted to your posts over the past six years?
Yes, Choupette has many celebrity fans and I am often very humbled when I hear from them. I was once interviewing Katy Perry for a story and she, in turn, started interviewing me about Choupette instead. Growing up one of my favorite movies was Now and Then with Christina Ricci. It wasn't until about six months ago that I realized she followed @ChoupettesDiary on Instagram and liked one of the posts.
Did Choupette ever go to fashion shows and shoots?
Yes, Karl often shot Choupette for publications and some modeling jobs. She never attended a fashion show, to my knowledge, unless she was hiding backstage and the press never caught a glimpse.
Were there any stars that she particularly took a fancy to?
She isn't the kind of feline that gets starstruck easily. I can, however, picture her going cat-nip crazy if she had the opportunity to meet the Spice Girls. She (and I) are still waiting for tickets to their reunion concert.
Did Choupette and Karl have favorite films or TV shows that they liked to watch together?
Their mutual pastimes were sketching and reading. TV was not a huge part of their bonding.
Are you planning to continue the accounts? How will they evolve?
Yes. While Choupette is going to be going into mourning for a little while, she will ultimately come back as a new woman branding herself outside of being just Karl Lagerfeld's pampered puss.
Should we expect a Choupette documentary in the future?
I would not be opposed to telling the true life story behind the @ChoupettesDiary brand, as it differs dramatically from the public perspective on the real feline. Netflix, give me a call!
How does Choupette feel about having nine lives when we humans only get one?
That's a very spiritual question and one that she will mull over during her mourning period.