A 1974 Chloé dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Photograph: © Chloé archive
Karl Lagerfeld’s 1954 prize-winning coat. Photograph: David Ertl

KARL LAGERFELD’S MODEMETHODE
By Naomi Barling

For the first time ever, fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld’s entire 60-year career at houses including Chanel, Chloé and Fendi is being investigated via a retrospective in Bonn at the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany. The show called Modemethode opened March 28, 2015 and will run through Sept. 13, 2015.

Modemethode displays 126 looks and accessories spanning from his 1954 International Woolmark Prize-winning coat, which was instrumental in him being hired at Balmain and the start of his fashion domination, to a neoprene wedding dress and bridal veil created for Chanel autumn/winter 2014-15.

The main focus is the designer’s creative process and methods, but the exhibit will simultaneously explore the kind of design talent and dying craftsmanship that Lagerfeld is trying to save via the Chanel owned company Paraffection.

“Karl Lagerfeld is the world’s most well known German fashion designer and it is time to appreciate his oeuvre in a comprehensive gesture,” said Rein Wolfs, curator of Modemethode and director of the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany, also known as the Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn, Germany. “So, it is more than self-evident that the Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany as the national flagship for exhibitions in art and culture shows his 60 years lasting creative process.

This exhibition is the first time the archives of Fendi, Chloé, Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel have opened Pandora’s box and loaned a substantial amount of dresses and accessories. The Metropolitan Museum in New York has also supported the show with archive pieces.

The Bundeskunsthalle’s Mr. Wolfs and Lagerfeld’s creative consultant Lady Amanda Harlech, an expert on the designer’s work, curated Modemethode. Hairstylist Sam McKnight created the wigs for the mannequins, and Lagerfeld himself collaborated on a sound installation with Michel Gaubert.

Through the pieces and accessories displayed, visitors can get a sense of the care and craftsmanship Lagerfeld devotes to his designs, from selecting materials to production sites. Many of the skilled artisans used in the production process, including milliner, shoemakers and goldsmiths, work only for Lagerfeld, making their contributions to his various labels unique.

Lagerfeld’s involvement in his design process span from sketching runway looks to planning fashion show sets to creating the marketing for a collection, including press materials, graphic design, advertising and store window displays. This exhibition shows the depth of his work.

“Every garment could be from the latest collection made for the runway,” said Mr. Wolf. “It is Karl Lagerfeld’s talent to combine tradition with innovation, texture with line, color with materiality.” That allows him to evolve with these fast moving times. It is fair to say the show is a little overdue, and is sure to excite the fashion world, and shine a light on one of the most recognized designers of our time.

We may have to make a trip to Germany to pay our respects!

A 1974 Chloé dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld. Photograph: © Chloé archive
Karl Lagerfeld’s 1954 prize-winning coat. Photograph: David Ertl
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