Choupette Lagerfeld not only has two maids, a private jet and a personal chef — she also made an estimated $4 million dollars in 2014 from sponsorship deals. Such a lavish lifestyle would make anyone ripe for parody, but Choupette is special: She’s a cat. Karl Lagerfeld’s cat.
Unable to resist such a famous fluffy target, Ashley Tschudin, a social media director at Fashion Unfiltered, launched a blog and corresponding Twitter and Instagram accounts written from Choupette’s perspective when the cat first garnered media attention in 2012.
The blog, a parody account that chronicles the comings and goings of the Birman cat, originally started as a joke before it went viral. Posts include takes on fashion news from a feline point of view, with tongue in cheek entries from the self-proclaimed “VIP (Very Important Pussy).”
“Choupette’s Diary” now has more than 82,000 followers on Instagram and 49,000 on Twitter, a robust audience that is often itself satirized. According to Tschudin, Choupette’s Diary has even captured the attention of celebrities like Katy Perry, who recently confessed to Tschudin that she follows the cat on Instagram.
“Vogue picked it up, Elle picked it up. All the major publications picked it up pretty quickly. The first week I was constantly in fashion media and it’s been pretty steady since,” Tschudin said.
“There is something unforgettable about her, the way she moves, the way she plays,” Karl Lagerfeld said of the real-life Choupette in The Cut in March. “She’s an inspiration for elegance. For attitude.”
The Lagerfeld camp, which did not respond to comment for this article, has largely turned a blind eye to Tschudin’s online antics. When she first started the project, an assistant on Lagerfeld’s team reached out to her to ensure Choupette was depicted positively. The designer’s squad has since halted correspondence.
Meanwhile, the real Choupette has continued to become an extension of the brand — appearing on Chanel clothing and accessories and being featured in a book titled “Choupette: The Private Life of a High-Flying Fashion Cat” — a phenomenon Tschudin, rightly or not, feels responsible for.
“I can 100 percent say that there would not be any of the Choupette clothing collection if there wasn’t this interesting in the personality I’ve created for the cat,” she said.
Choupette’s rise to fame dovetails with the growth in pet influencers like Grumpy Cat, Loki the Wolf Dog and Chloe the Mini Frenchie — critters that can earn as much as $3,500 for an endorsement deal. The key difference, however, is that the people who profit from those animals’ notoriety are the owners themselves.
Tschudin said despite acting as a third party, she has been able to monetize, though declined to disclose any numbers. She did insinuate that the amount pales in comparison to the multimillion-dollar salary of the cat itself, largely earned from modeling gigs, like a recent Vauxhall Corsa car calendar, and cosmetics brand Shu Uemura, Marie Clare reported.
“It’s a challenge to monetize as a pet influencer when you don’t own the pet itself and you’re not directly employed by the brand,” Tschudin said. Perhaps true. Just don’t get catty about it.
Image courtesy of W Magazine