Fabulous gowns incoming.
The theme of this year’s Met Gala is Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, reflecting the spring 2023 Costume Institute exhibition honoring the late designer for his work at Chanel, as well as at Fendi, Chloé, Balmain, Patou, and his own eponymous brand. As always, the dress code for the red carpet at the ball on the first Monday in May echoes the theme of the retrospective, with guests asked to dress “in honor of Karl.”
Lagerfeld’s vast body of work means there will be no shortage of inspiration for guests and designers to draw upon, and fashion fans can look forward to seeing plenty of vintage pieces on the red carpet. Team Vogue has been revisiting the looks from Karl’s back catalog we’d love to see referenced or worn on the Met Gala red carpet, from the Chanel tweed wedding dress Claudia Schiffer wore on the runway in 1995, to a particularly special organza gown from Karl Lagerfeld’s spring/summer 1974 collection for Chloé.
Read on for the looks we’d love to see on the night.
A star like Selena Gomez or Zoë Kravitz could revive this elegant black look Tatjana Patitz wore on Chanel’s autumn/winter 1991-1992 runway. The addition of the black sheer jacket makes this strapless minidress look really special.
Chanel’s spring/summer 1992 couture collection was a memorable one, and this black dress adorned with statement gold chains is an important part of Karl’s legacy. We’d love to see either this archive piece on the steps, or for a designer to take inspiration from it. It has already had a Met Gala moment once before, as Lily Rose Depp wore this vintage dress to the event in 2019.
Archive bridal looks could feature heavily on the Met Gala red carpet this year, and this Chanel dress from 2004 is legendary. Alek Wek was the first Black model to close a Chanel haute couture show as the “bride”, and she previously told Vogue: “During the fitting for the show, Karl told me that I had inspired the dress. He showed me the sketch. He did not want a veil or anything on the top of my head; he wanted to make sure my face was seen. I remember tearing up. It felt very emotional. As the first Black woman to walk in Chanel’s haute couture show as the bride, I felt it really set the tone. It sent a really positive message about diversity.”
A closer look at Alek Wek’s sequin column gown worn under her dramatic cape, with its modern crew neckline and long sleeves.
Chanel’s spring/ summer 1999 couture collection feels very current, and is an interesting one to look back on given that it included no black and few Coco-isms. Uma Thurman previously wore a dress from this collection to the Oscars.
Claudia Schiffer closed Chanel’s autumn/winter 1993 couture show in a magnificent dress covered in delicate flowers, with a crop-top effect and visible corset-style boning. The addition of trousers, the corset factor and the exquisite handiwork all make this a prime candidate for a Met Gala revival.
This Chanel gown from the autumn/winter 1991 couture collection is the very definition of a princess dress, thanks to the Cinderella-shaped bubble hem skirt and bejewelled lilac organza. The crystal bangles and oversized earrings and matching shawl only add to the fairytale feel.
Naomi Campbell wears a sequin striped dress from the autumn/winter 1996 couture collection, which has a flapper feel thanks to the pearl straps and silhouette.
This sheer black silk dress is from Karl Lagerfeld’s spring 1974 collection for Chloé – his first at the helm of the house – and features a slip dress and an oversized silk organza full skirt overlay with silver sequins and beads embroidered along the bodice and skirt. Sylvie Vartan wore it in French Vogue in 1974 – and it’s a piece of fashion history that would be a magical addition to the Met Gala red carpet.
Here we have another look from Chanel’s spring/summer 1999 couture collection, and the silhouette is the perfect embodiment of the “quiet luxury” trend that is dominating this year. It’s a wedding dress that doesn’t look too much like a wedding dress.
The structure and texture of Tatjana Patitz’s dress from Chanel’s autumn/winter 1991 couture collection makes it a timeless choice.
Karl’s autumn/winter 1995 couture show featured not one but five Chanel brides, including Claudia Schiffer and Helena Christensen. Karl played with Coco’s original signature designs, with an ankle-length fitted dress in the style of a classic Chanel bouclé jacket.
Chanel’s autumn/winter 1991 collection included T-shirts covered in gold and pearl chains, radically modern for the time, and Madonna’s influence was clear. “Lagerfeld is deliberately provocative,” noted Vogue in January 1992, “taking his Chanel show to the edge of an abyss of kitsch and funk. His wild accessorising with heavy metal and biker boots has had a powerful influence.”
Cara Delevingne closed Chanel’s spring/summer 2014 show in a sequin gown with a relaxed feel thanks to the T-shirt neckline and the matching sequin trainers. We’d love to see Cara rewear it. on the red carpet.
Chanel’s spring/summer 1992 couture show was one of Karl’s most iconic runways, and the oversized, sculptural hat that Naomi Campbell wore is perfect Met Gala material.
This article was originally published on British Vogue.