Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty honours iconic late designer

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld attends the Museum of Modern Art’s fourth annual Film Benefit in New York in November, 2011. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld attends the Museum of Modern Art’s fourth annual Film Benefit in New York in November, 2011. REUTERS/Kena Betancur

Published Jan 27, 2023


For this year’s Met Gala, which is set to take place on May 1, 2023 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York, the theme is “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” to honour the late designer.

The Met will also curate an accompanying exhibit celebrating the work of Lagerfeld. “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” will be on view from May 5 to July 16, 2023.

“Focusing on the designer’s stylistic vocabulary as expressed in aesthetic themes that appear time and again in his fashions from the 1950s to his final collection in 2019, the show will spotlight the German-born designer’s unique working methodology.

Most of the about 150 pieces on display will be accompanied by Lagerfeld’s sketches, which underscore his complex creative process and the collaborative relationships with his premières or head seamstresses,” the Met website said.

“Karl was a lover of multidisciplinary arts, and it’s the highest recognition for his work to be presented in such a monumental exhibition at The Met’s Art’s Costume Institute,” said Pier Paolo Righi, CEO of Karl Lagerfeld.

“As custodians of Karl’s legacy, we aim to bring his passion, intuition and inexhaustible creativity to life in everything we do. We cannot imagine a more poignant or meaningful way to celebrate his colossal achievements – both the enduring impact he’s had on fashion and how it’s shaping the future,” Righi said.

The iconic designer passed away in February, 2019 at the age of 85 leaving behind an impressive legacy.

Lagerfeld’s career took off in December, 1954 after winning first prize in the coat category in a competition organised by the International Wool Association in Paris. Lagerfeld’s success in the competition helped to establish him within the industry and led to his job as Pierre Balmain’s assistant in 1955.

Following his initial success in the fashion industry, Lagerfeld quickly secured a role as the art director of Jean Patou in Paris in 1958.

Business of Fashion reports that Lagerfeld was involved in designing “10 haute couture collections” for the brand during his time there.

According to Lagerfeld’s official website, he became one of the first freelancers in the fashion industry and spent his time working between France, Italy, England, and Germany. He worked with brands including Charles Jourdan, Curiel, Krizia, and Valentino.

Lagerfeld began to freelance at French fashion house Chloé, before taking “sole creative control” in 1966, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) said. Lagerfeld designed the fashion house’s collections from 1964 to 1983, and again from 1992 to 1997.

According to WWD, in 1977 he showed 200 looks at the Chloé show. This “set a new direction for the fashion world” in terms of the way he designed separates. Some looks included loose cardigans layered over V-necked pullovers and blouses with ruffled collars and sleeves.

In the same year, he launched his first perfume under Chloé. Lagerfeld is “dubbed the first designer to launch a fragrance without having his own label,” GQ reports, proving him to be a trailblazer in every field.

The year 1983 was an important one for Lagerfeld as he became Chanel’s chief artistic director. The designer would completely transform the brand, and create a lasting legacy at the French fashion house.

According to GQ, he is also responsible for interlocking Chanel’s “CC” logo. An iconic symbol that is synonymous with the brand.

Karl Lagerfeld’s iconic interlocking Chanel’s “CC” logo. Picture: REUTERS/Charles Platiau

Lagerfeld launched his eponymous label in 1984. The designer revealed his label was created to channel “intellectual sexiness”, GQ writes. However, according to Business of Fashion, Lagerfeld sold the label to the Tommy Hilfiger group in 2005 but retained his role as its chief creative.

In 2004 Lagerfeld Collaborated with H&M and become the first luxury designer to collaborate with the brand on an affordable collection. This inspired other designers such as Balmain and Alexander Wan to do the same.

German designer Karl Lagerfeld appears at the end of his Spring/Summer 2008 ready-to-wear fashion collection in Paris in 2007. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

In 2010, Lagerfeld was honoured with The Fashion Visionary award from the Couture Council of New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. In the same year, he was also bestowed with the Commander’s Cross of the Legion of Honour (Croix de Commandeur de la Legion d’Honneur) by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Chanel’s creative director Karl Lagerfeld poses before the opening of his photo exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris in November, 2012. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

In 2015 he was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award at the British Fashion Awards. Announcing the award, Natalie Massenet, MBE said, “Karl Lagerfeld defines outstanding. He is the champion of excellence, the master of the exceptional and one of the most iconic figures globally from our industry.”

In December, 2018 Lagerfeld walked the runway for the last time at Chanel’s Métiers d’Art 2018/19 show at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Lagerfeld walked with his godson Hudson Kroenig, and Virginie Viard, who took over his role at Chanel.