Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty

Metropolitan Museum of Art. May 2023. 436p. ISBN 9781588397584. $70. DEC ARTS
This volume by Bolton (Wendy Yu Curator in Charge of the Costume Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art) accompanies an exhibition at the Met. Its title and theoretical framework borrow from painter William Hogarth’s 1753 book The Analysis of Beauty and the concept of the “line of beauty,” or an S-shaped curved line appearing within an object. Lagerfeld’s clothes are divided into different categories that reflect the concept of aesthetic dualities (feminine line/masculine line, romantic line/military line, historical line/futuristic line, ornamental line/structural line). Each section concludes with a design termed “an explosion,” where the competing aesthetic dualities converge and are resolved and reconciled. Next to Hetta’s photographs of the clothes are Lagerfeld’s sketches (when available). The last section of the book includes interviews with the premières d’atelier of the design houses where Lagerfeld worked—Chloé, Chanel, Fendi, and his own brand Karl Lagerfeld—as well as reflections by friends including Vogue Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. It should be noted that Bolton explicitly states in the introduction that the complexities and problematic aspects of Lagerfeld the man (who publicly made misogynist, fat-phobic, anti–gay marriage, and racist remarks) are not discussed in this book.
VERDICT This handsomely designed book with lovely photography that showcases Lagerfeld’s talents is recommended for fashion aficionados and fans of his designs.
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