Karl Lagerfeld has been described as an "unbelievable Narcissus" who demands Pepsi in crystal glasses from courtiers who serve him like a king, in a book by the fashion mogul's former right-hand man.
Karl Lagerfeld and Me - published in Munich this week - is a penetrating look at the German-born Chanel and Fendi genius dubbed "the Kaiser" in the design world, where he has become a billionaire through his creations.
It reveals how he once informed a member of his team that she had lost her job by presenting her with a caricature depicting a hand holding her decapitated head Marie Antoinette style - in the presence of his entire company.
Written by Arnaud Maillard, his former assistant of 15 years, the book is part demolition job, part adoration.
Maillard said: "He was and remains a genius and I have great respect still for him. But after everything that happened to me I wanted to describe the other side of Karl.
"He is an unbelievable Narcissus who needs an eternity to pull himself into shape in the mornings. Every photo session is preceded by him pinning up self-portraits everywhere.
"He surrounds himself with courtiers, none of whom may contradict him. It is as if he is in the 18th century. Wherever he goes he has to have Pepsi Cola in a Baccarat crystal glass and it has to be replaced every 30 minutes."
He claimed his former boss rubbed himself all over with La Prairie, the most expensive skin cream in the world, twice a day.
Maillard also said Lagerfeld's employees had to be on hand 24 hours a day.
While Maillard said Lagerfeld was often very generous, he also said he could be "merciless".
If he no longer wanted anything to do with a person, "then he simply doesn't speak to them, as if they did not exist", he said.