The modern and indelible creations of Karl Lagerfeld, the longtime creative director of Chanel who passed away on February 19, will live in the permanent collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, which offers one of the best fashion design programs in the museum world.
The museum acquired four complete looks from Lagerfeld between 2001 and 2012. Fashion curator Dennita Sewell, who has worked at the museum for 19 years, explains that it’s important to collect couture when it comes off the catwalks.
“Even when you see fashion in editorials, you often see them mix up designers, so that’s not necessarily how it was presented on the catwalk,” she says. “And here at the museum, we seek to collect the most original and complete expression of designers as a designer, which includes accessories, etc.
“It becomes a collection strategy to make sure you buy things that are the best examples of an era for the future.”
The first acquisition recreates an ensemble, with a distinctive black bodice, from a City Country shooting magazine representing his last collection at the time.
None of the pieces are currently on display, but all four looks have been featured in past exhibitions, including those focused on trench coats and motorcycle fashion.
The most recent acquisition, a classic-looking ivory lace dress, was featured on a 2012 show called “The Sea”, which explored designs inspired by “the romance of the sea.”
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