The Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met Museum in New York is officially open, and it’s already the must-see show of the season. From Chanel to FENDI, we’re sharing our take on the best, most iconic and unforgettable designs at the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met.
The Karl Lagerfeld exhibit takes New York by storm
The first Monday in May is always one of the biggest nights in fashion. And 2023 was better than ever. It was the night of the annual Met Costume Institute Ball, and this year was extra special. The star of the night was one of the greats of all time: Karl Lagerfeld. The exhibit at the Met that the gala celebrated features nearly 200 of Lagerfeld’s greatest designs for Chanel and Fendi in 14 different galleries.
Of course, the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met doesn’t just focus on Chanel and Fendi. It’s a reminder of the many other famous fashion houses Lagerfeld worked with, including Chloé and Bolton.
a comprehensive survey of an incredible career
“When we go back and we look at the work that he has created over so many years, I think that deserves celebration,” Anna Wintour, the Editor in Chief of Vogue and the chairwoman of the gala, told CBS News’ Gayle King. “It deserves acknowledgment. I think there will be extraordinary interest in this exhibition.”
When Lagerfeld came to Chanel in 1983 as Creative Director, he may not have “saved” the legendary brand (it is Chanel, after all). But he did bring a much-needed sense of new life. “A lot of people said that [Chanel] was a dead house and I think he liked the challenge of showing people that they were wrong. That there was something there to be done,” said designer Eric Wright, who worked very closely with Lagerfeld.
So let’s take a minute to celebrate this artist with a look at some of his most iconic designs ever.
From Chanel to Fendi, the 8 best designs at the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met in New York
1. The Little Black Dress, Patou
It’s hard to imagine Lagerfeld as an assistant. But everyone has to start somewhere! He began his career working under the direction of the great Pierre Balmain at his Paris couture house. In 1959, Lagerfeld became the creative director of Jean Patou. It was there that he created the very first “little black dress” (LBD) in 1961.
2. The Pink Chiffon Dress, Balmain
In 1964, Lagerfeld was appointed as the creative director of Balmain, and it was there that he concocted the pink chiffon dress worn by actress Romy Schneider in the film “The Swimming Pool” in 1969.
3. White Silk Crepe Dress, Chloé
Lagerfeld joined Chloé in 1963, where his ultra-feminine designs were true game-changers. Think lots of lace, silk, and once again, chiffon. Arguably his most famous design for the brand was the white silk crepe dress worn by fellow fashion icon Jane Birkin in 1969.
4. Fendi “Baguette”, Fendi
Lagerfeld began working with Fendi in 1965 as a consultant, before eventually becoming the creative director in 1977. He shepherded the niche house into becoming a beloved and uber-successful global brand. Perhaps he is best known for the Fendi “Baguette” handbag, which he launched in 1997. It was a huge hit (the fact that Carrie Bradshaw regularly carried one on Sex and the City surely didn’t hurt.)
5. The groundbreaking designs for Chanel
And finally, there’s the main act of Karl Lagerfeld’s design career. He served as creative director of Chanel from 1983 until his death in 2019. Though Chanel was already iconic, Lagerfeld breathed new life into the aging brand.
In Vogue host Hamish Bowles said of Lagerfeld: he “set out to change the fashion world by making something old new again.” Lagerfeld always followed the “rules” and iconography of the house of Chanel (the black and white color palette, the camelias, the double C’s). But he incorporated modern sensibilities and pop culture trends seamlessly into these heritage motifs.
In addition to creating the “Boy Chanel” bag, the “Coco Crush” jewelry line, and the unforgettable “Chanel Airlines” fashion show, here are some of the standout designs at the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met that the designer crafted to transform the house of Chanel.
The Chanel Suit
The Chanel suit was already a fashion staple for the luxury class. But Lagerfeld managed to give it a modern spin, with a slimmer jacket paired with matching skirts or trousers. He also thought outside the box by adding in a completely different fabric or detail – like leather or metallic tweed.
The Chanel Little Black Dress
Lagerfeld had already created many wonderful Little Black Dresses (LBD’s). But tinkering with Coco’s classic LBD? That was very risky. Undeterred, Lagerfeld’s creative vision resulted in chic modern and inspirational frocks with fresh fabrics and gorgeous embellishment.
The Chanel Bag
It is a truth universally acknowledged that most women want a Chanel bag. And although Coco had already designed some perfectly nice ones, Lagerfeld brought the classic Chanel flap bag to a whole new audience. His robust and whimsical designs kept the classic bag in high demand.
And then he branched out into new shoulder bag silhouettes, like the Boy Chanel. And backpacks, and tiny crossbody bags. And charming evening bags in the shape of things like a ski lift. The bags became a playful element in his collections, as did the belts, bijoux jewelry and other sparkly accessories.
The Chanel Tweed Jacket
Another classic look that Lagerfeld managed to modernize with new patterns and accessories.
the new luxury hotel designed by Karl Lagerfeld
If you don’t make it to the Met anytime soon, you’ve got other options. For instance, you can opt to book a stay at the brand new THE KARL LAGERFELD MACAU. The opulent five-star hotel is located at The Grand Lisboa Palace Resort. Opening in June 2023, the property features 271 breathtaking rooms.
The hotel’s Mesa Restaurant features gastronomic delights by award-winning chef José Avillez. There’s a Book Lounge featuring 4,000 hand-picked books. And a spa and wellness center including indoor and outdoor swimming pools. Prior to his passing in 2019, Karl Lagerfeld worked in close partnership for years with SJM on the hotel’s design.
Chanel, Fendi and more at the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met
From Chanel to FENDI, that’s our take on the best, most unforgettable creative designs on view at the Karl Lagerfeld exhibit at the Met Museum in New York. Run, don’t walk, to see it for yourself, dear reader.