Naomi, Cara, and Kate—what Karl’s muses wore to celebrate his enduring legacy.
Karl Lagerfeld has donned many a muse on his arm, from Inès de la Fressange and Claudia Schiffer to Kristen Stewart and Cara Delevingne. These women have inspired his sketches, collections, fashion films, photographs, and a great number of other projects he took upon himself to create.
Karl, whose philosophy was to always look to the future, was a mentor to those who would become the next generation of industry titans, including supermodel Naomi Campbell, Oscar-winning director Sofia Coppola—who went from fetching him coffee to sitting front row at Chanel—and even Charlotte Casiraghi of the Monégasque royal lineage, who claims he was the one to imbue in her a love of philosophy and literature.
At The Costume Institute‘s 2023 Met Gala, the dress code is “in honor of Karl,” and his muses in attendance are celebrating him in camellias, black bows, and feminine luxe with a bit of an edge. See what they wore to pay tribute to the late designer—his life, his work, his enduring legacy—below.
For her sixteenth Met Gala, Naomi Campbell wears Chanel Couture spring/summer 2010, a collection Karl describes as a “flash” of pastel and silver. She wears peach-pink satin draped over a bodice of delicate metallic coils, reflecting her peach-pink sentiments of first walking for the late designer at only 16 years old.
It isn’t a celebration of Karl Lagerfeld without a final bride look; Chanel ambassador and Met Gala 2023 co-chair Penélope Cruz wears Chanel spring/summer ’98 couture, a collection inspired by the richly embroidered evening gowns of the 1910s and 1920s. “I loved him so much. He was really special,” Cruz tells La La Anthony for Vogue, recounting years of friendship and collaboration with the late designer.
Famously beloved by the late designer for her charm and wit, Cara Delevingne wears Karl Lagerfeld’s eponymous label and channels a punk-luxe sensibility that speaks to Karl’s personal style. With platinum blonde hair—a reference to Karl’s stark white—the model wears a white shirt dress that dramatically fans out behind her, accessorizing with Chrome Hearts cross jewelry. “I cried a little bit on the way here,” the model tells Vogue. “It’s an amazing way to remember him.”
Kendall Jenner, who started modeling for Karl at a young age, pays homage to the late designer in his signature black and white. She stuns the red carpet in a barely-there sequined Marc Jacobs number with dramatic floor-length sleeves and sky-high platform boots. “I started working with him when I was really young and new,” she fondly recounts. “He really embraced me.”
The supermodel and her daughter, model Lila Moss, share a mother-daughter moment on the red carpet wearing Fendi couture by Kim Jones, referencing Karl’s love of pastel hues and many a fur creation during his 50-year tenure at the fashion house.
The House of Chanel has been blurring the lines between masculine and feminine since it was helmed by Gabrielle Chanel, and it was no different under Karl. With a storied relationship with both the fashion house and its longtime creative director, Kristen Stewart arrived at the Met Gala red carpet in a black-and-white cropped jacket and trouser set, finished off with a three-pronged tie and a belt buckle featuring Karl’s iconic “CC” logo.
The BLACKPINK rapper makes her Met Gala debut wearing a Chanel Couture spring/summer 1990 reincarnation. A Chanel muse since 2017 and dubbed the “Human Chanel” in South Korea, it comes as no surprise that Jennie arrives wearing some of Karl’s most notable motifs for the fashion house: a white minidress decorated with a black bow and white camellia adorning her waist.
Nicole Kidman glides down the red carpet trailing tulle ribbons behind her, wearing a light pink gown encrusted with diamanté that leads to a train of ostrich feathers. The dress is Chanel, custom-made by Karl for her to wear in CHANEL N°5, the memorable 2004 commercial directed by Baz Luhrmann. Despite being only 180 seconds long, Anna Wintour notes that all three collaborators “treated it like an epic 5-hour film” of blockbuster proportions.
Another Chanel ambassador handpicked by Karl, Margot Robbie wears a romantic black chiffon dress with a PVC bodice lined with gold chains from Chanel Couture spring/summer 1993, a collection in which the late designer explored the juxtaposition between the over- and under-constructed. “This dress was worn by Cindy Crawford in 1993,” she tells La La Anthony for Vogue. “They remade it for me—and it’s obviously a Karl design—and I feel really great in it, actually.”
Devon Aoki arrives with designer Jeremy Scott, wearing a trailing white bustier with a trompe-l’œil feather motif atop a form-fitting black skirt. The model—who Scott lovingly calls his “shared muse” between himself and Karl—tells Vogue, “He was so good to me.” She recalls a funny story of working with the late designer and walking barefoot as his final bride, a wistful smile on her face.