By Miles Socha
with contributions from Rosemary Feitelberg
 on August 1, 2019
Karl Lagerfeld

Although no great fan of fashion exhibitions, especially retrospectives, the late Karl Lagerfeld is perhaps the designer most deserving of one.

The Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York certainly thinks so, and head curator Andrew Bolton is to conceive the showcase for 2022, sources told WWD.

Additional details could not immediately be learned and a spokeswoman for The Met said the museum does not comment on speculation about future exhibitions.

The Met has yet to divulge the theme of its 2020 fashion exhibition, saying only that the Costume Institute’s permanent collection would be the primary source of looks as the institution marks its 150th anniversary.

The Costume Institute’s current show, “Camp: Notes on Fashion,” runs until Sept. 8.

Given his unprecedented fashion career — spanning more than six decades, such major houses as Chanel, Fendi and Chloé, and stretching into photography, filmmaking and industrial design — the Lagerfeld showcase is sure to be a blockbuster.

The German-born designer, who died last February at age 85, has had a long history with the Met, staging his last Métiers d’Art show for Chanel, which had an Egyptian theme, in its Temple of Dendur in December 2018.

Chanel, where Lagerfeld was its couturier for 36 years, was the subject of a major exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005.

More recently, Essen’s Museum Folkwang hosted “Karl Lagerfeld: Parallel Contrasts” in 2014, a vast showcase devoted to his obsessions — photography, fashion and books — that no one dared call a retrospective.

“The word alone makes me blind,” Lagerfeld told WWD at the time. He helped conceive the exhibit, heralded as the “first major museum exhibition on Germany’s most internationally important designer,” but it was curated by publisher Gerhard Steidl and Chanel image director Eric Pfrunder.

“I didn’t think I was serious enough for a museum like this,” Lagerfeld added in his inimitable winking style.

More than a designer, Lagerfeld was a fashion mastermind, one of the most prolific, admired and multitalented fashion figures of the modern age, credited with setting the modern template for reviving and animating heritage brands.

A polyglot with a photographic memory and vast knowledge of history, philosophy, art and popular culture, Lagerfeld ran his own publishing imprint and bookstore, 7L.

He was also an accomplished photographer, lensing ad campaigns for the Chanel, Fendi and Lagerfeld brands, plus outside clients, including Dom Pérignon, Adidas, Coca-Cola and Pirelli. He did editorial shoots for scores of fashion magazines, including French, English and American Vogues, Harper’s Bazaar, Paris Match, V Magazine and Numero. Late in his career, he started making films to accompany certain fashion shows, and he directed commercials for clients, including ice-cream giant Magnum.

“I hate leisure,” the designer told WWD in 2008, “except reading. I’m really a person made to work, if sketching is considered work. I’m pretty lucky to be doing what I’m doing in beyond-perfect conditions.

“Fashion and the way it is now, it’s like the life of an athlete. It’s OK with me, I’m used to it. Appetite comes from eating,” he explained. “Collections, books and photos — that’s what I’m interested in most.”

Lagerfeld was adroit at all aspects of image-making and communications — and especially staging events. Late in his career, he orchestrated some of the biggest fashion spectacles the industry has witnessed, from sending models in Fendi down the Great Wall of China at sunset in 2007 to creating an artificial beach in the Grand Palais in Paris for Chanel’s spring ready-to-wear show in October 2018.

To be sure, Bolton and the Met will have plenty of material upon which to draw.

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