in honor of karl
From our head of fashion, brian solis
Karl Otto Lagerfeld worked at numerous design houses and is most well-known for his work at Chloé, Fendi, and Chanel. During his time at Chloé, Karl liked to use jersey fabrics and had a tendency to incorporate visual puns and prints in his designs. In 1965, he created the double "F" logo at Fendi (also called the inverted Zucca), which is now recognized around the world. When he became the Chief Artistic Director at Chanel in 1985, he modernized the brand, making it the powerhouse it is today.
Karl had his own distinct style, mostly known for his coiffed white hair, small low pony, dark-tinted eyewear, starched white shirt, slim black jacket, slim black or denim pants, and lastly, the leather gloves. Throughout his fashion career, he gradually created this recognizable uniform. However, this was not always the case; his style ebbed and flowed, ranging from light to dark suits, various sizes of eyewear, jewelry, tie widths, and don't forget the fan he used in the 80s.
Karl was the ultimate trailblazer. He had high expectations for himself and expected the same for the people who surrounded him professionally and the world. Design was life for Karl, and he felt a personal responsibility to create and pay homage to beauty.
Honoring Karl for this year's Met Gala can be interpreted in so many ways. His work has been photographed and archived throughout his career. Thanks to the internet, most of it can be found easily, as opposed to having to physically flip through endless pages of magazine clippings.
Left: Lagerfeld's career was kick-started when he was 21 after winning a prestigious fashion award for his coat design.
Middle: A model at the Spring/Summer 1996 Chloé show in Paris.
Right: A model at the Fall/Winter 2010 Chanel show in Paris.
The Met Gala red carpet has always been a surprise; it's truly
hard to forecast what the attendees will be wearing.
The safe route, but not the easiest, would be to showcase Karl's work at Chanel. In the May issue of US Vogue, you can see Thom Browne's tribute to Karl, worn by supermodel Shalom Harlow. In my opinion, this was the perfect balance of a designer paying tribute to a talented man who was respected in the fashion world. Thom kept the codes of his own designs but combined Chanel's fabrications and elements of Karl's details. Finding the right balance to honor someone like Karl, to pay tribute to him and his work, can go either way. It is important to remember that this should be a celebration and an expression of respect for Karl.
The gala is known for "go big or go home," and it's a time for designers to showcase their talent separately from a runway collection. I love seeing risk-takers who keep it tasteful. I'm sure we will see fashion flops, but I hope we'll also see something memorable that we can all appreciate and admire from afar.
A model at the fall/winter 1991 Chanel show in Paris.
Timeline according to Lilah Ramzi, Features Editor at US Vogue Magazine
Models at the spring/summer 1998 Chanel presentation in Paris.