1 MAY - 2023
As April comes to a close, the fashion world fanaticals among us are anticipating one of the biggest events on the yearly calendar - The Met Gala.
Held on the first Monday of every May, the star-studded affair is a fundraising benefit for its host, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City and its costume department.
Spectacle is the substance of the Met Gala. It’s elaborate, unashamedly elitist and utterly indulgent in almost every way. Just as there is a decadence to receiving a $30,000 ticket to the reception, there is a decadence in being able to gawk at recognisable faces in garish designs from the comfort of our phones. A yearly theme provides a welcome framework for red carpet analysis, allowing it to supersede the esoteric boundaries of “taste” which often frames and skews chatter surrounding other red carpet events. Whether someone has interpreted and constructed a look that is on theme or not is usually quite discernable and finding pleasure in their innovation or frustration in their hesitation is what will define the most memorable looks from the night, for better or for worse.
Following a meditation on Camp in 2019, a celebration of American Independence in 2021 and a tribute to the Gilded Age in 2022, the theme for 2023 was announced as ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’. With Vogue Editor-in-Chief and close friend Anna Wintour at the helm of the event as per usual, the night will honour the late fashion icon who passed in 2019, leaving behind him a prolific legacy at various European luxury brands, most notably French fashion house, Chanel.
So, let’s break down what we can expect to see as the who’s who of celebrities pour onto the red carpet, and note what might signal that a big name and their accompanying designer have indeed done their homework. Here are some predictions:
Obviously, LOTS of Chanel
Expect the French label, born from Madam CoCo, to dominate the carpet. While only part of his immense legacy, Lagerfeld’s reign as director of Chanel spanned from 1983 to his death, making his name synonymous with the brand and giving attendees decades of archived pieces they can draw from. Do expect some looks from Fendi, Chloe and Balmain as well, where he also contributed at various points in his career, as well as some ensembles from his eponymous brand. YSL will also likely make a prominent appearance as founder Yves was a close friend of Lagerfeld’s, the pair emerging as eager young European designers at the same time.
A not-so-colorful carpet
My guess is that our eyes will be treated to a muted colour scheme of designs, with monochromatic black and white looks featuring heavily, in line with Lagerfeld’s soft grunge aesthetic. Perhaps some ensembles will push into pastel territory, with others boasting the pops of pink and red that are commonplace with Chanel.
A Bride walking arm-in-arm with Lagerfeld at the closing of a Chanel runway show became a long standing tradition. Expect ladies to don their own marital looks and hope for an appearance from some of his favourite brides in iconic supermodels Claudia Schiffer, Devon Aoki and Linda Evangelista.
Dark glasses. Low ponytail. Fingerless gloves. Embellished black tailoring. High polish boots. A paper fan. Complemented with a steely expression of nonchalance .
References to elaborate sets
Immersive and extravagant, Lagerfeld spared no expense when creating the backdrops for his ready-to-wear and couture shows. Usually shown in Paris’ Grand Palais, his colossal runway sets included a supermarket, a rocket launch-pad, Parisian rooftops, an airport terminal, the base of the Eiffel Tower and a forest, offering plenty of material for creative inspiration.
The Double-C logo and Woven Leather Chains
Lagerfeld added to the classic Chanel trademarks of the camelia motif, tweed and quilted leather bags with the interlocked-C logo. While the logo existed in the 1920’s, he made it as emblematic of the brand as it is today, much like his addition of woven leather-chain handles and belts to the brand’s arsenal of trademark details.
A slew of Muses
Expect loyal Chanel ladies Lily-Rose Depp, Kristin Stewart, Margot Robbie, Margaret Qualley, Penelope Cruz, Keira Knightley and Cara Delevigne among others to be spotted on the staircase.
As a bonus, here is what I would LOVE to see on the carpet, but wouldn't place my bets on spotting, come May 1st…
Touches on his talents
While becoming a world-renowned fashion designer was his destiny, Lagerfeld originally hoped to become a cartoonist. He was also an avid photographer, shooting many campaigns himself, and a bibliophile with a collection of a suspected 300,000 books in his personal collection in addition to having opened his own book store. Though a less obvious answer to the theme, a structural gown made of pages or a suit printed with his sketches or photographs for example, could appeal to those looking to take a more considered, distinctive approach.
The allusions to Parisian style will no-doubt be plentiful. While Hamburg may not have the same fashionable associations as Paris, the birthplace of Lagerfeld has plenty of historic material, such as romanic architecture and saxon style, from which designers could launch their ideas and chart the beginning of Lagerfeld’s life.
Among the top models of the 80’s was Cindy Crawford and among the crowd on May 1st will no doubt be Kaia Gerber. Revisiting an archival Chanel piece once worn by her mother would be an incredible moment for the current it-girl. The same would go for Kate Moss and daughter Lila Moss.
Karl Lagerfeld was far from being free of controversy, with a quick google search bringing up a myriad of his long outdated opinions and frustratingly stubborn stands. Ironically, his 2015 Spring collection featured models jeering with signs and shouting into megaphones, pushing feminist messages as he walked alongside them. Could this stimulus be a rather meta opportunity to both reference and critique the polarising and derogatory beliefs of the late designer for those daring enough to do so? We will see.
That’s right, his sweet little jet-setting, diamond-donning feline baby. Cat lovers can only hope.