The Met pays homage to Karl Lagerfeld’s lasting legacy.
“Improvise. Become more creative. Not because you have to but because you want to. Evolution is the secret for the next step.” – Karl Lagerfield
For more than six decades, Karl Lagerfeld’s name was synonymous with the height of women’s fashion. A renegade, an innovator, and a legend in his own time, Lagerfeld’s legacy was one that spanned the industry’s top luxury brands from Chloé and Fendi to CHANEL, the iconic French brand with which he is most closely associated.
Now, four years after his death, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s spring 2023 Costume Institute exhibition will explore and celebrate the work of the late German designer. The focus will be on his stylistic vocabulary and the repeated aesthetic themes that can be seen in his early work in the 1950s all the way through to his final Alpine-themed collection for CHANEL in 2019.
“The exhibition will explore Lagerfeld’s complex working methodology, tracing the evolution of his fashions from the two dimensional to the three dimensional,” says Costume Institute exhibition curator Andrew Bolton. “The fluid lines of his sketches found expression in recurring aesthetic themes in his fashions, uniting his designs for Balmain, Patou, Chloé, Fendi, CHANEL, and his eponymous label, Karl Lagerfeld, creating a diverse and prolific body of work unparalleled in the history of fashion.”
Presented at The Met Fifth Avenue in the museum’s Tisch Galleries, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” will be on view from May 5 through July 16 and will also serve as the theme of the 2023 Met Gala, where fashion’s elite gather in their most spectacular garb on the first Monday of May. The chief sponsor of the exhibit will be CHANEL, which will be supported by Fendi, Condé Nast, and Lagerfeld’s own fashion brand.
Approximately 150 garments will be highlighted in the exhibit, spanning the designer’s career as the creative director of Chloé, Fendi, CHANEL, and his own label, Karl Lagerfeld, as well as his time at Balmain and Patou.
Lagerfeld’s astounding impact at CHANEL is perhaps where his legacy is most imprinted. Taking on the creative director role in the early ’80s when the label was all but washed up, he helped reinvigorate the fashion house into the influential and powerful luxury brand it is today. Along with reinventing the CHANEL jacket and suit, the little black dress, the two-tone shoes, the quilted handbags, and the pearls and costume jewelry, Lagerfeld is even credited for creating the interlocking Cs logo that has since become one of the most iconic and recognizable logos in the fashion industry.
“Emblematic Creative Director for the CHANEL Fashion House from 1983 until his passing in February 2019, Karl Lagerfeld was an extraordinary, creative individual who reinvented the brand’s codes created by Gabrielle Chanel through his inspiration and collections for the House,” a CHANEL spokesperson said in a statement about the upcoming exhibition. “CHANEL is pleased to support this exhibition, which sheds light on the work of a designer of genius who marked the history of fashion and changed the destiny of the House forever.”