The Couture Council of the Museum at FIT
Honors Karl Lagerfeld
For the past five years, the Couture Council of the Museum at FIT has staged an annual award ceremony honoring individual designers who’ve made significant contributions to the world of fashion.
It’s a prestigious event that serves as a fundraiser for the Museum, and past honorees have included Ralph Rucci, Alber Elbaz, Isabel Toledo and Dries Van Noten.
This year it was Karl Lagerfeld. When I received my invitation I thought, wow!!! How did they ever get him to come? This was great for FIT, and I was particularly happy for the museum’s director, Valerie Steele, an absolutely brilliant woman, a prolific author (she’s written almost 20 books) and a lovely person to boot.
I’ve been to several of these events, but knew I couldn’t miss this one. The crowd included more than fashion journalists: there were plenty of chic New York women, dressed to the nines, who had all come out to honor their beloved Karl.
I sat with Michele Gerber Klein, a Couture Council board member. I was also happy to see friends from Paris, including Alexis Mabille, Jean-Christophe Laizeau, Marie Martinez and Hervé van Der Straeten.
Since New York Fashion Week is now based at Lincoln Center, the luncheon was held at Avery Fisher Hall. It’s a new venue for the event, and certainly appropriate for NYFW’s uptown debut. The red carpet was full of photographers, all snapping away at the lovely ladies making their way inside. Daphne Guinness was, as always, a standout!
Karl, looking fabulous as ever, made his entrance with an entourage that included Sebastien Jondeau and Baptiste Giabiconi. They were bombarded by photographers. I see Karl at his Chanel shows in Paris, and know well enough to wait until the paparazzi have died down before saying hello. It was funny to see him on my turf for a change.
Simon Doonan was the event’s emcee, and, in his own witty way, he perfectly expressed how talented, worldly and enigmatic Mr. Lagerfeld really is. He called Karl the “Oscar Wilde of Fashion,” pointing out that he was already quotable as a boy–when asked by his mother what he wanted for his 4th birthday, Karl apparently deadpanned, “A valet.” Doonan also laughingly listed some of Karl’s “favorite names,” including “Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI.”
Doonan was followed by Diane Kruger, who explained that she’d known Karl for more than half her life. Before presenting the award to the man himself, she spoke about the global recognition his work has achieved, saying that women “from Kansas City to Kyoto” either own, or want to own, something designed by Karl Lagerfeld.
As for Karl’s speech, it was short, sweet and to the point.
Probably the most touching part was a message from Valentino, who sent a note to be read from the podium. It spoke of moments the two men shared over the years, from their teens to the present. Karl is famous for never looking back, but Valentino chided him gently, saying “Sometimes, we have to remember the past, to remember a friendship.”
It was a terrific event that raised $600,000 for the museum. The next night I sat next to Valerie Steele at the Altuzarra show, and took a moment to congratulate her on a fabulous party (frankly, I couldn’t believe she was out and about). But why not? As I said, Valerie is tireless, and she’s certainly passionate about fashion. And during New York Fashion Week, there’s always another collection to see!
Photographs by Noël Sutherland