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influencers: Gunter Sachs

1:40 PM

For this installment of my „Influencers“-series, I have chosen one of the few Germans who have managed to become an icon of the international Jet-Set: Gunter Sachs.

This man has done and seen it all during his life from being a photographer, astrologist, sportsman, movie director and banker to walking the most looked at red carpets of the world. He lived a life full of appreciation for the nicer things in life like art, women, traveling and friendship. He earned the title “Playboy” long before this was somewhat of an insult and treated his peers with honest respect and appreciation. Therefore, I have chosen him for this post rather because of his lifestyle and view on life in general than for his style choices. Nevertheless, he was named the most stylish guy in the world at one point in his life.

Gunter Sachs was born in 1932 as a descendant of the Opel family, one of Germany’s biggest car manufacturers at the time. Hence, he grew up in a pretty traditional yet quite wealthy family. He was sent to boarding school in Lausanne where he started building one of the most-extensive social networks at the time, connecting to the Jet-Set of future generations. For him these were real friendships though and he was never really trying to be in the spotlight.

A couple weeks ago, I finished his German autobiography “Gunter Sachs – Mein Leben” and was fascinated and impressed by his persona. Therefore I decided to share four of the key lessons that I learned from his adventures.

1.       Do it now!
He married early in his life and against his parents’ will which already shows one of his typical characteristics, doing what feels right at the moment without worrying too much about the future. Throughout his life this was a recurring theme which resulted in many  noteworthy experiences and anecdotes.

He conquered many of his women by impressing them with a totally spontaneous adventure, experienced some of the best parties by just participating in some crazy scheme and had the most fun with his friends coming up with games or ideas on the spot. Many of his peers died in tragic car accidents or because of sudden illnesses, which certainly influenced his fast lifestyle.

2.       Be a Gentleman
Nowadays, when you hear the word “Playboy” you think about rude and immature guys using women as to trophies to brag about their masculinity. In the era of Gunter Sachs however, the word had a totally different connotation. These were men lived an elevated lifestyle which certainly involved women as well but in a more passionate and welcoming way. Instead of trying to impress with status symbols, it was your character that left a lasting impression.

 They put the girls on a pedestal while ensnaring them, trying their best to come up with thoughtful ideas to  get their attention. The “original Playboys” treated women with the utmost respect and never bragged about it! Instead of having a bad break up that was highly publicized via newspapers, the couples often parted ways on a good note, remembering all the great memories instead of  having a dirty fight.

In all the years that Gunter Sachs spent in the public eye, he certainly was an excellent representative of Germany as well, never giving himself in to big scandals and prevailing through many set-up scandals from the press.

3.       Versatility is key
Gunter Sachs was an expert in many fields and never hesitated to pick up new interests. He was an excellent sportsman and a good businessman as well. On the other hand he studied Math and always had a great passion in numbers which eventually led him to write a highly acclaimed book on astrology (based on an extensive study).

He was a respected art collector and had a great reputation as a director and photographer, for example providing the first nude picture ever printed in the “Vogue”. Amongst his friends were many artists like Cezanne, Dali or Andy Warhol who provided new  inspirations. He was  a man with many talents  that never shied away from new directions or big ideas and was always open to try out new things.

4.       Be a leader not a follower
As a result of his many interests, Gunter Sachs became one of the major tastemakers and innovators of his time. He put St. Tropez and other locations on the Jet-Set’s map by inviting friends over to experience the beauty of these getaways. 

He was amongst the pioneers for “Pop Art” in the German art scene, building lasting friendships with artists such as Warhol (he bought the first Warhol picture in Germany!) or Roy Liechtenstein. Some of the artists later even designed one of his appartements making it a living art piece. In addition to the art world he also had a lasting influence on the fashion world. He discovered Claudia Schiffer who became the most popular German model ever and even had his own fashion brand "mic mac"!

In addition to his role as a pioneer in the art and lifestyle sector, he was always quick to pick up on new technologies or studies in science as well. As a photographer, he started using hypersensitive slow motion cameras early on and with his involvement in the SALT Institute, he was a strong supporter in the basic research in many fields of medicine.

I can only urge everyone to try to get their hands on a copy of his book as it is was taken off the market after his untimely passing. I was highly impressed and fascinated by this man who lived a life that might seem platonic and over-the-top on the first look, but was filled with love, true friendship and an enormous joy that should be an inspiration to all of us!

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