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Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty Is the Met Costume Institute’s 2023 Exhibition

The exhibition is set to bring together a collection of the late designer’s creations from Chanel, Fendi, Chloé, Balmain, Patou and his namesake Karl Lagerfeld brand.
Karl Lagerfeld | Source: Courtesy

Next year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will celebrate the work of the late Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour announced Friday at a press conference during Paris Fashion Week, paying tribute to the creative polymath and former Chanel creative director who died in February 2019.

The exhibition, titled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” will feature works from throughout his illustrious six-decade career. About 150 of his creations from his time at Chanel, Fendi, Chloé, as well as Balmain and Patou, will be displayed alongside pieces from his namesake brand Karl Lagerfeld, sketches by the designer and video produced by film director Loïc Prigent. Architect Tadao Ando will design the exhibition.

The idea for the exhibition was first conceived three years ago following Lagerfeld’s death, Wintour, editor-in-chief of American Vogue and global editorial director at Condé Nast, said.

“Karl Lagerfeld was my friend, a true and wonderful friend over many decades….But I admire more than anything [his work] as a designer,” Wintour said. “His career was filled with paradoxes, he was the king of commerce, but he was also passionate, the greatest intellectual.”

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Pharrell Williams, Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton at the press conference during Paris Fashion Week, which took place in Lagerfeld’s former photography studio.
Pharrell Williams, Anna Wintour and Andrew Bolton at the press conference during Paris Fashion Week, which took place in Lagerfeld’s former photography studio. (Matteo Prandoni/Matteo Prandoni/BFA.com)

The narrative of “A Line of Beauty” will be anchored in Lagerfeld’s sketches, tracing the transformation of his two dimensional drawings into three dimensional garments, said Andrew Bolton, head curator of the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Drawing was Karl’s primary mode of creative expression and communication, every design that he ever created during his remarkable 65-year career began as a sketch,” Bolton said. ”To the untrained eye [his sketches] seem spontaneous and impressionistic. But to the skilled eyes of his premiers, they conveyed very precise details…There were a kind of secret language between Karl and his premiers, who knew exactly how to decipher every line and translate them into tangible garments.”

Key industry figures gathered for the announcement, which took place in Lagerfeld’s former photography studio in Paris. Among them were Virginie Viard, Lagerfeld’s successor at Chanel, Chanel president Bruno Pavlovsky, Fendi artistic director Silvia Venturini Fendi, and Pharell Williams, a longtime friend and collaborator of Lagerfeld’s.

“He had a vision for lifestyle and design,” Williams said of the late designer. “His creativity was always led by a narrative. There was always a story.”

The exhibition will run from May 5 to July 16, 2023. The annual Met Gala celebration will take place on May 1, 2023.

Editor’s Note: This article was updated on October 1, 2022 to include the involvement of Karl Lagerfeld, Lagerfeld’s namesake brand, in the exhibition.

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