Photo: Delphine Achard
The Church of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy was constructed between 527 and 548 during the reign of Emperor Justinian and his wife Theodora. The UNESCO-protected monument is a treasure trove of glittering glass and enamel mosaics, which attracted the lens of Karl Lagerfeld in 2010. Portraying richly-dressed figures laden with jewels, these images bear witness to the extravagance of Constantinople and the splendour of its iconography.
Karl Lagerfeld plays with this aesthetic in conceiving a collection that glitters with reflections of this vanished luxury. Recently unveiled in Istanbul, the collection revives historical ties between Ravenna and Byzantium that saw San Vitale serve as the prototype for the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul. Now the capital of Turkey, Istanbul was once known as Byzantium and renamed Constantinople in 330, when it became capital of the Eastern Roman Empire. At the peak of its success in the sixth century, the burgeoning empire gave rise to a brilliant, refined civilisation that survived until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Mosaic-lined basilicas are a testament to the society at the heart of the Christian empire. The last remnants of this iconic art survive in Ravenna to this day.
Sketch of Lily Allen's dress by Karl Lagerfeld
Photo of the fittings at 31 rue Cambon by Benoît Peverelli
The 3rd out of 4 short films on Chanel eyewear
Located just a stone’s throw from the Old Port and the Place des Lices, the Hôtel La Mistralée – an imposing manor house dating from 1850 with ten individually styled rooms – provides the backdrop for Chanel’s summer quarters.
The smaller parlour showcases a perfumery with a selection of fragrances, eyewear and other accessories.
In the larger drawing room, whose ivory floor radiates light, designs from the Paris-Byzance collection are presented.
The black metal framed glass canopy is both plain and contemporary, and accentuates knitwear and shoes.
Surfboards stamped with the Chanel logo and a croquet set presented in a quilted leather case complement the scene.
Until October 2nd 2011, 10am to 9pm
1, Avenue du Général Leclerc
"I still don't know exactly who I am," wrote Gordon Parks about his multiple creative identities. "I've disappeared into myself so many different ways that I don't know who me is." Of course he knew exactly who he was. He defied categorization and was a boundary-busting, barrier-breaking, beacon. If ever there was the perfect recipient for a Photographer's Award in Gordon Park's name, on a night when creativity is the theme, it is Karl Lagerfeld - the man who wears more hats, or fascinators, than they just had at Kate and William's wedding.Here's an abridged list of some of the ways that Lagerfeld gets more out of a day (and often it's the night too) than anyone I know. Creative director and resident genius fashion designer, at Chanel for 29 years, Fendi for more than 40 years - a world record - and Lagerfeld, the house that bares his name. Artist who sketches with the natural ease of a true talent. Author who writes with the knowledge of the world's libraries. Publisher who helps keep alive the art of book making. Filmmaker, who is creating the glamorous version of a Cassavetes-like atmosphere by casting his friends and chosen family. Actor-ex-Warhol superstar and current leading man in the many Lagerfeld documentaries that are popping up. Wit - who is every interviewer and writer's dream, he is so quotable, and deliciously wicked. Collector, who has an eye for design that is as sharp as they come. Interior designer - who makes most of the professionals look like sheep. Letter writer - who would have impressed even Elizabeth Bishop, one of his favorite authors. Advertising’s go-to secret weapon - one who shoots the campaigns for not just his own houses, like Chanel and Fendi, but the competition too, and he also gets a Warholian kick out of creating an aura for all things popular - from Coca-Cola to ice-cream. Tired yet? Karl's not. He’d modestly say he’s just getting started. And if you congratulate him on any of it, he’d answer, "But that doesn't make the next one."Which leads to his bond with photography. It is his lighthouse - he always goes back to it, whether it's architecture, landscapes, portraiture, fashion, still life, etc. When other fashion designers are kicking back after a days work, a show, or a long season, Karl is almost always off doing a photo-shoot, for an underground magazine, or a powerful glossy, or a campaign, or a personal project he has assigned to himself. We became friends over our mutual obsession with photography. He had looked at every photography book that had ever been printed and still does.
Our first conversations were a long time ago - when Karl had just begun to pick up the camera for real. What was striking about his first pictures was that they had an instant sense of weight, probably from all the looking at photographs he had done over the years, and they also had his own voice. Mountains of books, stories, assignments, and campaigns later, this is still true. Watching Karl photograph says it all. I have been with him on shoots in the streets of New York, Paris, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. Each time enormous crowds have gathered, and traffic jams have clogged up matters, with fans gaping at the
pony-tailed icon with high white collars and sunglasses, calling out, "We love you Karl." Always polite and always slightly startled by his fame, he looks up and thanks them, but then gets right back to work. Nothing can break the spell. Karl doesn't just reserve the sense of magic for his own work. Last night when he arrived in New York we had dinner together, with some friends. He immediately wanted to show us a rare portfolio, from 1914, that he'd just tracked down in France, designed by Paul Iribe, with text by a number of writers, including Auguste Rodin and Jean Cocteau, and photographs by Baron de Meyer, of the ballet, Prelude of the Afternoon of a Faun, starring Nijinsky. There are only six copies of it left in the world. After we'd all looked at it and marveled over its sophisticated design, the beauty of the graphics, the tenderness of the paper, the printing of the photographs, and the romance of the photographs we got into a debate about whether a facsimile should be made from it. Karl said, "I love it so much that I can't bear to be without it - even for the hours it would need to be out of my hands." One day there will be people out there saying the same thing about Karl's photographic work. In fact they are already.Photo: Karl Lagerfeld and Anna Mouglalis at the Gordon Parks Dinner and Auction in New York on June 1st
The 2nd out of 4 short films on Chanel eyewear
A tribute to the ancient Imperial capital, the Paris-Byzance collection combines French couture tradition with Ottoman magic, bridging the gap between past and present, Occident and Orient. Istanbul – a crossroads, swarming metropolis and a city of striking contrasts with its mosques, secular neighborhoods, high-flying jet-setters and high-tech – has been chosen by Chanel for another showing of its Métiers d'Art collection following the official December presentation, which took place in the Chanel salons on Rue Cambon, Paris. The venue is a white marble terrace at the Ciragan Palace, a former residence of a sultan. It offers a place to admire the Bosphorus, lulled by the regular sound of the waves. The Bosphorus is everywhere: a part of the city and a stimulating yet soothing presence.
At nightfall, it is time to go inside the palace where the show’s backstage area has been set up. Beneath Murano-glass chandeliers – no doubt reminders of the sultan’s lavish lifestyle – the girls are being prepared with chignons worn very high on the head and eyes rimmed in black and red eyeliner. Models are standing in the wings dressed in tweed chasubles with hints of gold, velvet harem pants or draped chiffon dresses, all of Byzantine inspiration. Outside, the anticipation is building. The intelligentsia and local press start to arrive. The women all look very beautiful and elegant tonight, in lots of black and outrageously high heels. Kirsten Dunst, Élodie Bouchez and Cécile Cassel arrive. The show starts and the models descend the majestic staircase with an air of nonchalance. A steady ballet featuring these Imperial sylphs is played out. The girls walk by, only centimeters from the audience comfortably installed on sofas and cushions. The spectators, who are so close they can almost touch the garments, get a good look at the embroidery, braiding and wrought-gold buttons.
The last model completes her run. The show is over and the elegant women of Istanbul are thrilled. After a glass or two of champagne, all the guests melt back into the steady bustle and traffic of a city that never sleeps.
On the occasion of the amfAR Gala on May 19th, Karl Lagerfeld presented a series of black and white «Photo-booth» portraits.