Vogue’s latest cover has just been unveiled, and it’s a beautiful tribute to the late and great fashion icon, Karl Lagerfeld.
This cover shoot is in anticipation of the 2023 Met Gala, themed “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty”, each model is styled with a nod to Lagerfeld’s signature style, embracing bold prints, elegant tailoring and eye-catching accessories.
The cover features ten of Lagerfeld’s most recognised models including Naomi Campbell, Gigi Hadid and Devon Aoki, each dressed in a unique creation from one of ten top designers who were given the task of reinterpreting Lagerfeld’s work.
The campaign was shot by renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz in Paris’s striking setting, Le Grand Palais, during its extensive renovation. The surroundings reinforce the theme of modernisation and re-creation shown through the designs themselves.
This Vogue cover presents us with an enticing appetiser of what we can expect at the main event in May. So let’s dig into the designs;
The first design comes from Pierpaolo Piccioli, Creative director at Valentino and is worn by Anok Yai.
Pierpaolo writes “When Anna texted me to ask me to take part on Karl’s project, I was taken back to a very precise moment in time. I was working with accessories at Fendi…,this is where I first met him. Every time he came he brought a piece of modernity and avant-garde, he never ever indulged over the past with nostalgia, he was disruptive, bold and surgical….Karl was not only an amazingly talented designer, he literally invented the role of the modern Creative Director and drew the path for the future of our industry.”
The highlight of the look, ‘The Camelia Cape’ takes influence from the iconic Chanel white rose whilst demonstrating the boldness & sharpness of Karl’s designs. The design demonstrates a timeless monochrome colour pallet, in true Lagerfeld flair. The look is styled with a white poplin shirt and black tie which are all classic elements that Karl, both wore himself and incorporated into many of his designs over the years. A black neoprene dress ties the look together creating a balance of modernity and heritage.
The next design comes from Thom Browne and is worn by Shalom Harlow who walked for Karl many times during the epitome of his career.
This look pays homage to both designers, who shared a love for tailoring and modern design.
Browne writes “Karl loved [the iconic Paris boutique] Colette, and my label was sold there. He bought a grey suit, crystal briefcase, blanket, and shirt and tie, he took a picture of himself in them and sent it to me. I have it in my office—it’s very special to me… I loved his use of shape: moulded shoulders, and proportions that were unique, maybe avant-garde for a lot of people—so I wanted to play with that idea, and with the fabrications of the house of Chanel.”
The look is an elaborate display of iconic Chanel fabrics combined with Browne’s own personal style which comes from the deconstruction of the jacket.
The inspiration for this design also draws from the magnificent shoot setting. Considering the grandeur of the building, the garment needed to hold its own in its vast surroundings.
“I wanted it to feel like it fit within Le Grande Palais” – TB
The third look was curated by none other than Donatella Versace and is worn by Kendall Jenner.
Donatella reflects on her first meeting with Karl and what she found so unique about his perspective on design – “He didn’t take himself so seriously, but then geniuses never do. It was like every show he did was his first. He also liked to have women around him, to give him strength. Their presence was very important—he wanted to know what women thought of what he was doing.”
Donatella’s design was heavily influenced by Karl’s work at FENDI, which is evident in the voluminous skirt that she created. The use of fur on the skirt is another nod to the FENDI influence, as Lagerfeld’s initial role when he joined the house in 1965 was as Creative Director of Fur.
To pay homage to Karl’s personal style, Donatella paired the extravagant skirt with a black leather bustier, as Karl was known for always wearing black. This aspect of the design serves as a personal tribute to Karl and his unique style. And a nod to his iconic black leather fingerless gloves.
This next look comes from Jun Takahashi, creative director of Japanese fashion house Undercover and is worn by model Liu Wen.
This design takes influence from when Karl first started at Chanel and what he did to revolutionise the brand. When Karl started at Chanel, he embraced the classical elements of the brand whilst bringing it into the modern fashion world, one of the many ways he achieved this was by adding in extravagant accessories and jewellery which can be seen in Takahashi’s interpretation.
“It’s wonderful how Karl managed to achieve so much for so long. When he started reworking Chanel, changing the look bit by bit over the years, it was fresh—he captured the atmosphere of each passing era and wove it into Chanel’s designs, making them evolve.” – J.T.
Jun infused his personal style into the look by incorporating distressed elements, which can be seen through the frayed fabric. This punk-inspired detail adds a unique touch to the design.
He explains “It’s a quintessential Chanel suit, but there’s something you can’t quite put your finger on—dark pop and punk accents, with the seams exposed or cut into tatters.”
Christopher John Rogers brings us the 5th look, worn by the stunning Adut Aktech.
Christophers design focuses on the magnificent technique and construction behind Karl’s designs, and pays homage to the craftmanship behind his work, particularly at Fendi.
Both designers are renowned for their ability to innovate through adaptation of silhouettes, a skill that is exemplified in the design’s combination of a voluminous skirt paired with a tight-fitted halter neck boned corset.
The use of bold colour and texture is another reference to Lagerfeld’s work at Fendi, where he designed for an astonishing 51 years – the longest collaboration in fashion history. Karl experimented with colour throughout many shows during his time at Fendi, and colour is something Christopher does exceptionally well – This is evident in the design’s bold pink shades, which are made from over 250 strips of organza.
“I looked at his work for Fendi, which, although very expansive, was always about technique—and I thought about all the behind-the-scenes construction that went into the house’s couture pieces… As I’ve gotten older, I’ve appreciated his work in the way that it feels like even if it’s not for everyone, it’s always for the customer, and for him. He stands for longevity, authenticity, craft—and having a sense of humour in fashion, regardless of whatever else is going on in the world. He really crafted his own language.” – C.J.R.
Natalia Vodianova wears this next design from John Galliano at Maison Margiela.
The polka dots on the dress were created by projecting the pattern onto the garment, then cutting out where the projection hit the surface of the dress. The sequins were cut out and dipped In hot water allowing them to melt into a new shape, they were then dipped in cold water to hold their shape. Galliano’s unique design processes and creativity create a really unique interpretation on a classic style that Karl used in his own designs.
The choice if pattern holds a strong reference to Karl’s work at Chanel, particularly his spring summer 1997 show in Paris where polka dots swarmed the catwalk.
The dress itself takes influence from Lagerfeld’s time at Patou, where he focused his designs on constructive details including seams, pleats, topstitching gathers and trims – concentrating on the line of a garment.
“[My first] Chanel show was overwhelming—the adventure, the mischief, the encyclopaedic knowledge about fashion of any period, any century. Karl was like an oak tree, by which I mean there was enormous wisdom.”
Lagerfeld’s adored cat Choupette stars in this next shot featuring Naomi Campbell, with garments designed by none other than Oliver Rousteing – creative director at Balmain.
Oliver Reminisces “I first met Karl in 2011. “You’re the new Balmain boy?” he asked me. I said yes. “I used to be the Balmain boy—welcome to fashion.”… He has always been my biggest inspiration in life. He didn’t follow fashion—he created fashion, and connected fashion to pop culture. Karl was the pioneer—the king—of all that we’re trying to do today. And he never stopped being curious about life.”
Since both designers have experience designing for Balmain, it seems only right that’s this looks source of reference and inspiration is from Karl’s time at the Fashion House. The first job Lagerfeld had in fashion was assisting Pierre Balmain in 1955,
“The look I’ve created is a tribute to him—I looked at what he was doing at Balmain: emphasising a tiny waist, bigger shoulders, playing with the buttons.”
Amber Valletta, the label Karl Lagerfeld’s sustainability ambassador, wears this next look designed by Chitose Abe at Sacai.
This look incorporates all the obvious design features associated with Karl Lagerfeld, as seen with the white collared shirt and black tie. Chitose adapted this look the Sacai way by transforming it into an elegant, flowing gown that exudes simplicity and opulence.
The skirt of the dress is sectioned off from the shirt with a buttoned fastening which replicates the bottom half of a blazer, an additional nod to Karl’s signature look.
“When you think about Karl, it’s the white shirt, a tie sometimes, and some hard-edged jewellery. I’ve tried to capture that—not to reproduce it, but to hybridise it in the Sacai style and turn it into an elegant dress.”
The 9th design is brought to us by the house of GUCCI and is worn by supermodel Gigi Hadid.
She styles a stunning GUCCI dress, adorned with crystals and pearls, embellished with a classic black rose in the style of Chanel. The look is complemented by a black embroidered tweed jacket, embroidered with matching pearls and jet crystals.
Gigi reflects on Karl and his influence on fashion “Karl inspired me by his storytelling—his ability to communicate worlds and bring them to life. He was an icon because he had this genius focus on what was important to him and what he was interested in, and his uniform was part of that intent. It was his armour, his way of becoming Karl Lagerfeld. Even 10 feet away, he looked like how Karl Lagerfeld was meant to look. He was awesome.”
This look also includes Karl’s statement white collar, it’s known that Karl owned over 1,000 high-collared in his own personal wardrobe.
The tenth and final look is designed by Simone Rocha and is worn by one of Karl Lagerfeld’s most iconic models – Devon Aoki.
“He was the first designer to do an H&M collaboration. For me, as a teenager at that time, that was so iconic. For someone from luxury to be working with the high street—that was taboo. But Karl was always unapologetic, and that’s quite rare.”
Simone was inspired by Karl and his unique perspective on the luxury fashion industry and bridging the gap between couture houses and the high-street, she even went on to collaborate with H&M herself in 2021.
In this design Simone pays homage to Karl’s time as creative director at Chloe. Which can be seen through the uber-feminine, chic and elegant design. She incorporates delicate lace and silk, drawing inspiration from Karl’s archive pieces at Chloe, and masterfully pairing this with a structured bodice for a striking contrast. The look is topped off with, once again, the iconic white rose.
Simone’s personal touch comes from the harnessing features of the design, she explains “I was thinking, how can I bring lace into my world? I brought in some harnessing, a bit of hardness, for some juxtaposition, because that runs through Karl’s work in general. The harness is a bit twisted, but it bring
This Vogue issue promises to be an exciting and heartfelt tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, one of the most influential figures in the history of fashion. We can be sure to see a wide variety of Karl’s signature style inspiring the outfits of the Met Gala attendees, in an event that will captivate the fashion world for weeks to come.
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