The stunning display of black and white ensembles at the 2023 Met Gala, as seen on guests like Keke Palmer, Tems and Balmain designer Olivier Rousteing, was in tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, whose 60-plus years of design is featured in the 2023 Costume Institute spring exhibition: Karl Lagerfeld, A Line of Beauty.
More than 200 designs from the former creative director of Chanel, Fendi and his namesake label can be viewed at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City through July 16, 2023.
Known as a revolutionary in the fashion industry, Lagerfeld was equally inspired by the hip hop revolution of the 1990s. His Chanel 1991 Fall/Winter collection featured color-blocked denim, pendant necklaces and body chains made popular by TLC, Missy Elliott and Mary J. Blige. In 1999, Lil Kim sported a Chanel tracksuit designed by Lagerfeld.
Lagerfeld's right-hand man for decades was fellow designer Eric Wright, an American Black man. As Lagerfeld's trusted lieutenant in the 1980s and 1990s at Chanel and then later at Fendi, Lagerfeld used him as a bouncing board for ideas.
Lagerfeld's most ardent collaboration with a Black celebrity undoubtedly belongs to Pharell Williams, who, by the way, is now the men's creative director at Louis Vuitton. The two developed a close friendship and worked together on Reincarnation, a film that promoted Chanel’s Pre-Fall 2015 campaign. The "Happy" singer walked in Chanel’s runway show and made history when he became the first man to star in a Chanel handbag campaign in 2017. Their last collaboration was a Chanel capsule college in 2019, released after the designer's death in February of the same year.
With her love for Chanel bags from 2014, Nicki Minaj and Lagerfeld also formed an admirable bond. She wore his head-to-toe Fendi designs on the cover of her 2018 single “Chun-Li.” After Lagerfeld’s death in 2019, Fendi announced an artist capsule with the rapper-actress entitled “Fendi Prints On,” a tribute to their collaborative spirit.