By Erin Moonyeen Haley
In anticipation of the MET Gala 2023, whose theme is all things Karl Lagerfeld, Vogue highlighted looks that will be featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s ongoing exhibit in Amanda Harlech’s article “The Everlasting Genius of Karl Lagerfeld”. Called A Line of Beauty, the exhibit - which is set up in the Tisch Galleries - is set to run from May 5th to July 16th, 2023. Roughly 150 pieces will be on display, all with the intention of zeroing in on the designer’s methodology and his creative process that allowed him to reign and revel in numerous houses: Balmain, Patou, Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, and his eponymous label, Karl Lagerfeld.
With many fashion houses and icons skirting the numerous controversies surrounding Lagerfeld, it gives those same parties time and space to spotlight his signature looks and trends from the various houses he helmed. With that in mind, the exhibit still embraces what the museum is calling Lagerfeld’s complexities as his designs run the gamut of delicate details and whimsical embroidery to Grecian conceptualizations of glamour. Still, it is up to each and every fashionista to decide if they agree with Anna Wintour and the museum that a man with a reputation for xenophobia, fatphobia and misogyny deserves to be praised in such an honorary manner. Then again, perhaps that controversy is part of fashion's purpose and allure; perhaps it is part of its ever-evolving legacy. Or perhaps it merely illuminates the fact that, as far as enlightenment and cognizance are concerned, the world of fashion still has a ways to go.
The Brise dress from the Fall 1983 Chloe collection was a liquifying disco ball of sequins, pipe-ish pearls, silver rhinestones and dark blue silk crepe. Despite its elegance, the motif of the dress is actually that of an open showerhead, with water spilling down the torso. At the time, Lagerfeld stated that he was tired of "usual decorations."
In 1990, to mark the FIFA World Cup that was held in Italy, Lagerfeld crafted a draping Fendi dress - modeled here by Anok Yai - ideal for any Roman or Greek deity.
As part of a haute couture collection for Chanel in 1996, Lagerfeld went for a body-hugging gold lace gown that gave a sculpted tapestry ambiance.
Here, Yai is modeling Lagerfeld's 2000 Fendi tuxedo dress, which channels the millennia's obsession with stark geometric designs and cinched waists.
Lagerfeld designed the tromp l'oeil dress for Chloe's 1984 collection, borrowing etchings and themes from Greek and Roman iconography.
The Chanel gown from the Spring 2013 collection required over 2,000 hours of hand-stitching, making it the ultimate labor of love. A confection of organza and gazar, the dress was layered with tulle, lace and feathers, giving in to the trend of maximalist femininity.
Made from pink organza and silk muslin, this Spring 2010 eccentricity for Chanel flourished with mikado blooms that created the illusion of miniature bows from shoulder to knee.
This Fendi shift dress is from the Spring 2014 collection and echoes Lagerfeld's love for black-and-white costumes that operated more like uniforms, keeping the artistry minimized and the creativity ironically maximized.
Model Anok Yai wears Lagerfeld's mohair Fendi haute fourrure cape that swept the runway in Spring 2016. In this look, his love of sketching makes itself evident in the sharp lines and sleek angles.
Model Sora Choi exemplifies Lagerfeld's crisp tuxedoed looks, wearing a tailored coat and white shirt that comes complete with jolly double bows. The look hails from his own Fall 2008 collection.
All images courtesy of Vogue May 2023 issue