How Jordan Roth Transformed Into a Human Fan at the 2023 Met Gala
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How Jordan Roth Transformed Into a Human Fan at Tonight’s Met Gala

As a four-time Met Gala attendee, Jordan Roth—who is the president of Jujamcyn Theaters on Broadway—has consistently been one of the annual event’s most exuberant and fabulous dressers. Last year, the self-described “theaterista” and couture devotee wore an ornate Thom Browne overcoat to the affair made from mohair, satin, moiré, and velvet; In 2019, he shined in a winged Iris van Herpen design. 

At tonight’s Met Gala, which honored the legacy of the late Karl Lagerfeld, Roth continued this love of ornate craftsmanship. This time, Schiaparelli’s designer Daniel Roseberry transformed Roth into a human fan for the night. It was a special homage to the signature accessory that Lagerfeld often carried around with him. Below, in his own words, Roth shares the creative inspiration and vision behind the striking look. 

The Met [Gala] is a canvas that offers us to create, play, and dream. I love the freedom of scale that it offers, and also the context of the theme that it offers. It’s always been this beacon of glamour, creativity, and epic fashion joy.

When I heard the theme, I was like, yes! Then, we got specific. I have always loved and salivated over [Lagerfeld’s] designs, the prolificness of his career, and the ways in which he created so many different collections under so many different houses. Each one had their own unique personality. But as much as I adore and covet his designs, I’ve always been fascinated by his personal iconography, which goes beyond his personal style. He created himself through iconography. When the theme was announced, I knew that’s where I would focus and take inspiration from. 

It all started with a beautiful conversation between me and Daniel back in December. We shared thoughts and sketches back and forth. It's an extraordinary process of craft, consideration, and rigor. One of the things I love so much about couture is the creative patience that is inherent in the form. There’s no guessing; there’s theory, and then there’s experimentation. 

A sketch of Jordan Roth's custom Schiaparelli lookPhoto: Courtesy of Schiaparelli

I knew immediately that I wanted to create a portrait of Karl Lagerfeld through his personal iconography—which is different from dressing like him. I wanted to create a look that is specific to me. I knew I wanted Daniel to do this piece, because so much of the remarkable work that he is doing at Schiaparelli is about exploring and exploding [symbols]. The way in which he has interpreted not only the house codes, but also Elsa Schiaparelli’s own personal iconography, and crafting those into fashion-art, has been just thrilling to watch and wear. 

Daniel was beautifully aware of what I had done at the Met previously, so he was very thoughtful about creating a piece that is furthering my own works and expression. My last three Met pieces have been very expansive in volume, so he envisioned something quite different for me. I loved the challenge of making a bold statement in a tighter volume. 

We had a couple of specific ideas, but what called to me were Karl’s fans. [The fan is] a form that transforms, has function as well as decoration, and it has inherent movement. It calls to be to be animated and energized, as an extension of your own body. And, of course, it is singularly Karl Lagerfeld. 

Jordan Roth durting fittings with Daniel RoseberryPhoto: Courtesy of Jordan Roth

I am fully a fan. I’m not holding a fan—I am a fan. The design is made out of three dimensions, in black mirror. It has all of the detailed fins that you would expect to see in a fan. And there’s a sequence of embroideries of Karl’s drawings of his iconographies, like his glasses, bows, or Choupette. It is a sculpture. Daniel has been really exploring the ways in which fashion and sculpture can be one in the same. It's set on a silhouette with the tightest corset Schiaparelli waist that you could imagine, and an exaggerated hip. Black beads are set horizontally. It’s like a poured-on, metallic skin. 

There are so many wonderful images of [Karl] with a fan, but there is one signature pose where he’s holding the fan up and it covers the bottom of his face. You will see that reference in the placement of the fan, which just hits the bottom of my lip. When I put on the [design], it speaks very loudly to my body and how I should move in it. That called for opera gloves, because the arms become an extension of the fan. We animate a fan with our arms, hands, and wrists. 

Jordan Roth chats with Daniel RoseberryPhoto: Courtesy of Jordan Roth

[When I put it on,] this piece and I felt like we were destined for each other—like we were meant to dance together. If anyone were to feel a little more free to express themselves [after seeing my look on the red carpet], in whatever way feels most authentic to them, that would be a great honor. The nicest thing anybody can ever say to me at the Met is, ‘You understood the assignment.’ 

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