What will stars wear at the Met Gala 2023 in honour of Karl Lagerfeld?

Event and accompanying exhibition will pay tribute to the German designer who died in 2019

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The annual Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute ball, better known as the Met Gala or Met Ball, has unveiled the theme for this year's event — and it's in honour of late fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Every year, the fundraising gala mirrors the latest exhibition at the museum, and for this year, it is Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. For the gala on May 1, guests have been asked to dress “in honour of Karl.”

The prolific German designer, who died in 2019, has an impressive archive of clothes to trawl through, from his work with several fashion houses across the decades. This includes Chanel, Fendi, Chloe, Balmain, Patou and his own eponymous brand. He even, it was recently revealed, created collections for Max Mara.

Such a legacy means that guests have a seemingly limitless selection from which to choose, spanning every conceivable colour, mood and era.

Guests could choose looks from the start of Lagerfeld's illustrious career and his years at Balmain, where he worked as Pierre Balmain’s assistant between 1955 and 1958. Or there is Lagerfeld’s time at Patou, where he was head designer from 1958 to 1963. Finding archive pieces from either of these will win the wearer some serious fashion chops on the red carpet.

A model in a Karl Lagerfeld bridalwear creation featuring trousers fashioned from lace, tulle and satin, encrusted with strands of pink and white wool. Photo: Chanel

Or, why not opt for a look from Lagerfeld’s huge Chloe archive, under his double tenure, between 1963 and 1983 and then again from 1992 to 1997? Having helped shape the Chloe aesthetic of upscale Bohemia that still exists, this is a rich seam of vintage looks to mine.

A more literal salute to Lagerfeld is to wear something from the two houses with which he is so inextricably linked — Fendi and Chanel. As integral as the founders at both maisons, he helped define them for the modern age.

Lagerfeld joined Fendi in 1965, and remained until his death five decades later. He designed the famous double F logo (that stands for Fun Fur, not Fendi) and embraced that attitude with furs dyed every colour imaginable, made into coats, jackets, bags and even shoes in ways no one thought possible.

A model is assisted off the runway while wearing a dress by Fendi, at the Great Wall of China near Beijing in 2007. Reuters

At Chanel, a glance at his output between 1982 until his death in 2019, reveals thousands of looks from ready-to-wear, through cruise, to haute couture, traversing the excess of the 1980s to the fragile delicacy of his final couture collection, via the introduction of denim and his masterful ways with tweed.

For those struggling to single out only one outfit however, there is plenty of inspiration to be had from the Chanel runway settings themselves, as rocket ships, supermarkets, Parisian rooftops, a merry-go-round or even a casino could all be the starting point for an entirely new look.

Of course, the chance to copy Lagerfeld's personal style will be irresistible for some, but even with this, there is considerable choice. Should it be his 1980s version, in oversized suits and an ever-present fan, or his post-diet version, clad in Dior’s skinny suits? His final, and most famous uniform of high, starched collars and powdered grey hair pulled into a ponytail will no doubt make a showing, and it will be fun to watch how it will be translated into Met Gala looks, complete with fingerless leather gloves. Naturally, anyone choosing to wear this look will need the finishing touch of Lagerfeld's beloved cat Choupette.

(FILES) In this file photo taken on February 3, 2015 German fashion designer, artist, and photographer Karl Lagerfeld poses next to a painting of his cat "Choupette" during the inauguration of the show "Corsa Karl and Choupette" at the Palazzo Italia in Berlin.  German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld has died at the age of 85, it was announced on February 19, 2019. / AFP / DPA / Jens KALAENE

However the 2023 theme is interpreted, rest assured the audience will be treated to some remarkable reworkings — we are looking at you Rihanna — as the evening will undoubtedly become an outpouring of love for the designer.

So sit back and wait for the show of a lifetime. And maybe bring some cat treats.

Updated: January 19, 2023, 4:00 PM
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