Chanel became the second ever fashion brand to put on a runway show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Tuesday night. (Valentino was the first to do it in the early ’80s.)
The French maison crossed the pond to showcase its Metier d’Arts collection using the Met’s most famous piece—the Temple of Dendur—as the backdrop.
Karl Lagerfeld was very obviously inspired by the location: he presented an Ancient Egyptian-themed collection. The approach wasn’t nuanced: the inspiration was quite literal and heavy-handed at times. A song called “Egypt, Egypt” by Egyptian Lover, from the album “On the Nile” served as the soundtrack (sample lyrics: Egypt, Egypt, Egypt, Egypt/ Egyptian Lover/ Egyptian Lover, baby/ Egyptian Lover/ Egyptian Lover, baby). Models carried tiny pyramid shaped minaudières, wore layered jewel-collar necklaces, and silhouettes featuring rounded breastplates with shoulders that jutted out, mimicking the regalia of the ancient pharaohs.
Ancient Egyptian symbols, like scarabs and lotus flowers and ankhs, appeared in prints. Eye makeup paid homage to the Eye of Horus.
The collection was so awash in gold that even the models legs got dipped.
Still, the collection was quite beautiful. Chanel’s signature nubby knits took on more languid silhouettes—forgoing the boxy suits for body-skimming tunics with a gauzy, muslin, floor-skimming skirt underneath (perhaps as a reference to the linen that mummies were wrapped in?).
More casual pieces, like intarsia knits and metallic pants (like the ones modeled by Pharrell), or a denim look modeled by Kaia Gerber, gave the decadent collection a slightly more relaxed feel.
Karl Lagerfeld took his bow alongside his longtime collaborator, Chanel fashion studio director, Virginie Viard, and Hudson Kroenig, the son of Chanel model Brad Kroenig, who has been walking Chanel shows since he was, well, old enough to walk.
He received a standing ovation from the room, filled mostly with VIP clients dripping in his creations. It was clear here, in a space filled with references to ancient gods, theirs is King Karl.