The first Monday in May is here, meaning the Met Gala is upon us. Recognized as one of the most highly-anticipated events in the fashion calendar, the fundraising gala benefits the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City. It brings together a star-studded guest list of celebrities dressed in accordance with the chosen theme.
This year’s theme is ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,’ in honor of the late German fashion designer. So, who was Lagerfeld, and why is this year’s Met Gala dedicated to his work?
Karl Lagerfeld was born in Hamburg, Germany, on September 10, 1933. As a child, he was interested in visual arts and spent much of his time sketching, which he continued to do throughout his life. Lagerfeld began his career in the fashion industry in the 1950s as an assistant and later an apprentice to Pierre Balmain. Three years later, he became the artistic director for Jean Patou in 1958.
The designer left his mark on several different fashion houses throughout the 1960s and 70s before landing the role of creative director at Chanel in 1983. At Chloé, he introduced new materials and prints such as denim, corduroy, and floral patterns into the brand’s collections. His designs were praised for their feminine and light aesthetic, featuring loose and flowing silhouettes that embodied the free-spirited attitude of the era. In 1976 he was hired at Fendi, where he introduced groundbreaking design techniques to modernize the fashion house’s fur line. But this was just the beginning.
Karl Lagerfeld reached international fame and recognition during his time at Chanel. He was hired at a time when the fashion house was struggling after the death of Coco Chanel, but Lagerfeld managed to revamp its ready-to-wear line and integrate the iconic “CC” monogram into a style pattern. He also reinvented the classic Chanel silhouette by padding the shoulders, shortening the skirts, and raising the heels.
Just a year after starting at Chanel, Lagerfeld launched his own eponymous brand, designed to embody “intellectual sexiness,” and has been known for its innovative designs and cutting-edge fashion since its inception. Lagerfeld’s brand has always been known for its signature black-and-white color scheme, which has become an iconic part of the fashion world.
Lagerfeld spent much of his later career in the early 2000s working on collaborative projects with other designers and fashion houses. In 2002, he collaborated with Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel, on a denim collection for the Lagerfeld Gallery. The collection consisted of pieces that were co-designed by Lagerfeld, developed by Diesel’s creative team, and presented during Paris Fashion Week. Another notable collaboration was between Lagerfeld and Swedish crystal manufacturer Orrefors to design a crystal art collection.
Lagerfeld’s last collection for Chanel before his death in 2019 was based on après-ski clothing with an Alpine theme. Since he had requested not to have a funeral, a tribute show was held instead. Lagerfeld left behind a legacy of creativity and innovation that continues to inspire designers and fashion icons worldwide, making his work the focus of this year’s Met Gala.
As per usual, guests of the night will be basing their red-carpet looks around the dress code. This year, it is expected to see pieces from Lagerfeld’s numerous archives and nods to Lagerfeld’s signature look of white hair, dark glasses, and a tailored suit. Though the guest list remains top secret, fashion community members expect to see some of Lagerfeld’s most influential muses, including Cara Delevingne, Kate Moss, and Lily-Rose Depp, on the Met Gala’s red carpet.
Karl Lagerfeld left an immeasurable impact on the fashion community and is recognized as one of the greatest fashion designers of all time. The countdown continues to the first Monday in May, and the Met Gala’s tribute to Lagerfeld’s work remains a testament to his enduring influence.
Featured image via ABC.