Written by Oscar Holland, CNN

Contributors Samantha Tse

Organizers of the annual Met Gala, one of fashion’s biggest nights, have announced next year’s theme: Celebrating Work The late Karl Lagerfeld.
Scheduled, as always, on the first Monday in May, the star-studded fundraiser will invite attendees to honor the work of the German designer, who died in 2019 at the age of 85.

The theme of the gala coincides with the major exhibition “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. In a press release, the Met said the show will bring together around 150 designs that will “explore the designer’s stylistic language.”

Items on display will include creations from Lagerfeld’s time as creative director of Fendi, Chloe and Chanel, as well as pieces from his stints at Balmain and Patou and designs from his namesake label.

The invitation-only benefit, which typically costs upwards of $30,000, is a major source of funding for the Costume Institute. Led by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, it raised $15 million in 2019, according to the New York Times.

The annual fundraiser is one of the most talked about red carpet events of the year. Credit: James Devane/GC Image/Getty Images

Lagerfeld was a prolific sketcher, and most of the items on display will be accompanied by related drawings. The institute’s chief curator, Andrew Bolton, said he was inspired by hearing Lagerfeld’s design assistants – or “hidden hands behind Karl’s brilliance” – paid tribute at the memorial service.

“I was fascinated by how he communicated (with Lagerfeld), which was through drawings,” Bolton told CNN shortly after the announcement.

“Every design in his life was a sketch… and when I looked at the drawings I thought, ‘These are so charming, so whimsical, so influential.’ But I didn’t realize they had really accurate information — about the shoulder line or the length of the sleeve. And (his staff) knew what this line meant or what that point meant and they could decode it.”

Bolton, who is also writing an accompanying book, said the late designer “would have hated retrospectives” but that the exhibition would be like an “essay” about his work.

Although the Met Gala dates back to 1948, the idea of ​​centering it around an accompanying exhibition only emerged in the 1970s. Recent themes include “China: Through the Looking Glass” in 2015 and “Camp: Notes on Fashion” four years later. Individual designers have been spotlighted in the past with previous year’s themes, including Yves Saint Laurent, Christian Dior, Gianni Versace and, most recently, Comme des Garçons founder Ray Kawakubo.

Kim Kardashian, pictured with Pete Davidson, caused a stir by choosing a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe at last year's Met Gala.

Kim Kardashian, pictured with Pete Davidson, caused a stir by choosing a dress worn by Marilyn Monroe at last year’s Met Gala. Credit: Angela Weiss/AFP/Getty Images

With the Covid-19 pandemic forcing organizers to schedule the last two events less than eight months apart, the most recent galas were both variations on an American fashion theme: this year’s “Gilded Glamor and White Tie” and in 2021, “In America: A Dictionary of Fashion.”

Next year’s Lagerfeld exhibition will be open to the public from early May to mid-July. The gala’s co-chairs, which last year included Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds, have yet to be announced.

Top picture: Karl Lagerfeld pictured with Blake Lively at the 2011 festival, themed “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty.”

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