On Monday, May 1st, the 2023 Met Gala will take place. This year’s Costume Institute exhibition, “A Line of Beauty,” will celebrate the oeuvre and life of Karl Lagerfeld. The exhibition will see Andrew Bolton and Wendy Yu, curators in charge, examine the work of Karl Lagerfeld (1933–2019). Throughout his lifetime, Lagerfeld worked at prominent fashion houses such as Balmain, Chloé, Fendi, Chanel, in addition to founding his namesake brand. More than 150 pieces will be on display in the exhibition, many of which will be accompanied by Lagerfeld’s sketches. In the following days, I will look back at my all-time favorite Chanel collections, designed by the one & only Karl. Hope some of these magnificent looks will end up on the red carpet on the first Monday in May…
The resort 2011 scene was like something out of a quintessential Riviera movie. With the sun setting over the sea, hundreds of Chanel’s invited guests sitting in the red wooden chairs of Saint-Tropez’s famous Sénéquier, and many more onlookers piling onto balconies and pressing against barricades, Natasha Poly, Anja Rubik, Abbey Lee, and the rest of Karl Lagerfeld’s cast arrived at Quai Jean Jaurès via speedboat. And like the carefree starlets and jet-setters they were channeling, the models traipsed down the street-cum-runway often barefoot, wearing 70s-inspired diaphanous caftans, long crocheted dresses, ruffle-lapelled silk jersey trouser suits, and patchwork denim skirts. Tanned and toned midriffs peeked out beneath a cropped sweater here or a button-down there, its hems tied in a saucy bow. Freja Beha Erichsen’s white silk Mick Jagger tuxedo delivered some sun-drenched rock & roll to the French idyllic. The Rolling Stones front man, of course, married Bianca in just such an outfit in Saint-Tropez’s town hall back in 1971. Magdalena Frąckowiak, doing the brilliant Brigitte Bardot cosplay, danced her way toward the photo pit in a black and white checked maillot. And for the finale, there was Georgia May Jagger, with her dad’s tune “Let’s Spend the Night Together” for an accompaniment. The model got to take a spin in a beaded minidress and thigh-high boots on the back of a tricked-out Harley with Sebastien Jondeau. To be sure, there was a nostalgic mood to the affair. What prompted these witty nods to the past from a designer who famously had no patience for such fusty concepts as the “good old days“? The location surely had something to do with it. Though Lagerfeld pointed out that “Chanel was spotted here once in ’34 by Colette,” Saint-Tropez feels much more like his kind of town. “I spent many years of my life here,” he said. “I know Saint-Tropez like I know Paris. The collection is very casual, very down-to-earth.” Key, of course, is that lightness of touch, the sense of enjoyment and ease.
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.
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