The exhibition—and party—of the year are just six weeks away, and today the Costume Institute has released some “teaser” content that provides details of how “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” is conceptually organized. We’re also treated to some of the photographs Julia Hetta made for the soon-to-be-released catalog, as well as fashion sketches and runway imagery that provide a tantalizing glimpse as to what will be on display.
The show features more that 150 objects spanning Lagerfeld’s six-decade career (c. 1950-2019), and most pieces will be accompanied with a corresponding sketch. Artworks illustrating the designer’s many cross-cultural references—from Art Deco to Memphis, literature to film, the 18th century to robots—will also be included. Curator Andrew Bolton landed on Lagerfeld’s drawings as a way into a deeper understanding of the designer’s process, which saw ideas manifested first on paper and then collaboratively rendered in cloth. “With Karl, everything he ever designed in his life, he drew first,” Bolton noted in a recent interview.
A polyglot who spoke German, French, English, and Italian, Lagerfeld was also fluent in the gestural and physical language of lines and curves, as is evidenced by the lively drawings he made for the ateliers that translated his 2D documents into 3D garments. There will be a room dedicated to the premières d’atelier, or seamstresses, who made his pen and ink lines dance fluidly in fabric. Documentary footage captured by the French filmmaker Loïc Prigent, will further animate and extend the themes of the show.
The theoretical framework for the exhibition, which opens to the public on May 5, is derived from William Hogarth’s 1753 book The Analysis of Beauty. The artist and writer equated stillness and inactivity with straight lines, and the opposite qualities with serpentine lines. Those “lines of beauty,” form the main binary that organizes the show, with rigid lines representing Lagerfeld’s “modernist, classicist, and minimalist inclinations” and curvy lines associated with the designer’s opposing “historicist, romantic, and decorative impulses.”