Karl Lagerfeld’s Exhibition At The MET: Controversial And Dazzling
As someone who loves both art and fashion, I didn’t want to miss seeing the Karl Lagerfeld exhibition even if the options were to go on the last day and in the rain. Karl Lagerfeld was both a controversial figure and a genius designer, although you would not know from viewing this exhibition, which focused on the latter. This brings to question what exactly should be the role of museums in storytelling. Do they not have a responsibility to present the entire profile of an artist? Does society not benefit from knowing both the art and the artist?
We now live in a world where disinformation is being normalized at the same time that our educational system is teaching less about history, art, and literature (let’s not forget civics). Museums have always been a wonderful supplementation to educating us. There is so much of history that we would know less of if not for the role that curators play in museums. But not all curators are as objective as they should in presenting all the facts, as in the case of the Karl Lagerfeld exhibition.
Who Exactly is Karl Lagerfeld?
Lagerfeld died at 85, leaving behind 65+ years of artistry that redefined the fashion industry many times over. He broke many rules changing how the fashion industry functions today, having worked with multiple couture houses at the same time (Chanel, Fendi and Chloe). His designs were very much influenced by changes in society blended with the past. His uncanny ability to sketch designs from the trends and changes happening in society served him well in being both avant-garde and a powerhouse. But he was also a man of great arrogance, lacking empathy and an understanding of humanity. He was a misogynist, racist, anti immigrant, and anti refugee, making inflammatory remarks about people including their physical appearance (fat phobia). A deeply flawed human being unable to embrace the Me-Too Movement, even though he worked primarily with seamstresses and models.
Here lies the problem… if museums and their curators fail at presenting the good and the bad, what’s stopping the next generation of artists from behaving badly? The MET was highly criticized for failing to present the total profile of this artist instead protecting his legacy at the expense of the truth and the obligation of all educational institutions to state the facts.
So What About the Exhibition?
The show consisted of 200 garments organized by themes referred to as lines of beauty. There was a romantic line, classical line, historical/futuristic line, abstract line and many more revealing the depth of his work and influence.
The show was dazzling. I love the idea of including the original sketch so that you can see the evolution of the garment from paper to clothes. They also had a video at the entrance that shows how quickly Lagerfeld can sketch a design wearing his fingerless black leather gloves. My favorite garments were his black dresses and evening wear, which were stunning and classical. My photos contain at least one design from each line of beauty. Click here to access the photos and remember to click the center of the image to have a full view.
Final Note: The worst part of the show was how overcrowded it was even with designated time slots. A petri dish for catching a virus, since no one wore a mask. Strongly suggest if possible not to go to any museum, especially the MET on the last day of an exhibition. Preferably avoid the weekend and, if possible, rainy days.
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AUGUST 2, 2023