On May 1, 2023, the Met’s Costume Institute introduced its spring exhibition, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” at a press preview before the Met Gala, which happened later that evening. The exhibit will be on view at the Met Fifth Avenue through July 16, 2023.

When I arrived on the scene at Fifth Avenue and W. 86th Street, the sidewalks were lined with a crowd of photographers, TV cameras, and reporters stretching down the avenue to the entrance of the Met at W. 82nd St. and securing their spots while waiting for the Met Gala celebration later that night, where the focus would be on Karl Lagerfeld’s designs.

Co-chaired by Michaela Coel, Penelope Cruz, Roger Federer Dua Lupa, and Anna Wintour, the Met Gala is the Costume Institute’s primary source of income for annual exhibitions, publications, acquisitions, operations, and capital improvements. 

The glamorous affair draws all the stars, this year including Rihana and Serena Williams, who are both expecting. Naomi Campbell, Beyoncé, and Jay Z and other A-listers graced the Met Gala carpet, and Lizzo performed at the event. Editors and fashion VIPs at the scene were dressed in their best Fendi, Chanel, or Lagerfeld styles.

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Lagerfeld (1933–2019) had a career that spanned a remarkable  65 years. The show opens with introductory galleries that explore his early career, including being awarded the International Woolmark Award in 1954, and his roles as a design assistant at Balmain and an artistic director of Patou, where he continued to hone his unique sketching technique. 

Lagerfeld’s looks are stunning. Whether you walk to the right or left, the awesome displays of day suits, dresses, evening wear, and furs are suspended from high spots and in various groups on a lower level. Lagerfeld’s mesmerizing fashions are color- and style-coordinated. His attention to detail, including draping, glittery accents, feathers, flowers, and color fusions, immediately grab the eye. 

William Hogarth’s book, “The Analysis of Beauty” was the inspiration for the exhibit. The book centered on the author’s concept of the line of beauty, or the serpentine line: a curved, S-shaped line appearing within an object or as the boundary line of an object, representing liveliness or movement. While Hogarth viewed straight lines as representative of stillness and inactivity, Lagerfeld took inspiration from both the straight and serpentine line in equal measure. 

“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 his legendary persona,” said Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of the Met. Fendi provided major support for the exhibition, with additional support from Karl Lagerfeld and Conde Nast.

For more info, visit www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions.

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