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The Met to Explore Karl Lagerfeld’s Creative Process

Designer Karl Lagerfeld’s work is getting the museum treatment. 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City announced Thursday the late Chanel designer will be the muse of the Costume Institute’s spring 2023 exhibition.

“Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” will spotlight the Germany-born designer’s unique methodology, focusing on how his “stylistic vocabulary” was expressed through collections from the 1950s to his final offering in 2019. 

Approximately 150 garments will be on view, spanning the designer’s career as the creative director of Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, and his eponymous label, Karl Lagerfeld, as well as his time at Balmain and Patou. Most of the pieces on display will be accompanied by Lagerfeld’s sketches highlighting his creative process.

Drawing on the theory of art and aesthetics expressed by William Hogarth as the “line of beauty,” The Met said the exhibition will be anchored by “straight” and “serpentine” lines representing Lagerfeld’s modernist and historicist tendencies. The exhibition will conclude with the “satirical line” focusing on Lagerfeld’s ironic, playful, and whimsical predilections expressed through visual puns reflecting his wit. 

“Karl Lagerfeld was one of the most captivating, prolific, and recognizable forces in fashion and culture, known as much for his extraordinary designs and tireless creative output as for his legendary persona,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met. “This immersive exhibition will unpack his singular artistic practice, inviting the public to experience an essential part of Lagerfeld’s boundless imagination and passion for innovation.”

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In celebration of the show’s opening, The Costume Institute Benefit (also known as The Met Gala) will take place on May 1, 2023. With gala attendees encouraged to dress according to the theme, expect to see archival Lagerfeld designs, new interpretations of his work and homages to his own signature style. 

The exhibition and the benefit for The Costume Institute are made possible by Chanel, where Lagerfeld was creative director from 1983 until his death. He is credited with reviving the luxury house in the ’90s.

The benefit provides The Costume Institute with its primary source of annual funding for exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements. Co-chairs will be announced in the coming months.