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INSPIRED: Andrew Bolton OBE in conversation with Liam Freeman

This is as close I will ever get to the Met Gala. I attended INSPIRED: Andrew Bolton OBE talk. It was very interesting and Andrew's knowledge of the fashion industry is admirable. So who is Andrew Boltan? Andrew is the curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute since 2006, and is recognised for having spearheaded some of the most groundbreaking and innovative fashion exhibitions in the museum’s history. Most noted for the phenomenally successful "Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty" retrospective in 2011, Bolton has also overseen the Rai Kawakubo exhibition in 2017, as well as the successful "Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination," which has attracted over 1 million visitors, making it the museum's third most popular exhibit ever, and featured objects from the Vatican Collection alongside designs by Gianni Versace, John Galliano for Dior and Yves Saint Laurent. Bolton also curated the 2019 exhibit "Camp: Notes on Fashion.

In May of this year, The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art opened its spring 2023 exhibition, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. Highlighting the late designer’s complex design methodology and sketching as his primary mode of communication, the show is presented as a conceptual essay rather than a traditional retrospective and explores recurring aesthetic themes that appeared in Lagerfeld’s fashions across his 65-year career.

As Wendy Yu Curator in Charge, Andrew Bolton, OBE is the chief mastermind behind the operation – he is responsible for the exhibition, from the concept, to working with design houses, architects, and other collaborators on every element.

The History of the MET Gala

The MET Gala, also known as the Costume Institute Gala or Met Ball, has a rich history that dates back to 1948. It was established by fashion publicist Eleanor Lambert as a fundraiser for the newly founded Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art[1]. The first gala was held in 1948 and consisted of a dinner, with tickets priced at $50 each. Since then, the event has evolved into an iconic night for fashion and the art world.

Each year, the MET Gala is held on the first Monday in May and marks the opening of the Costume Institute's annual exhibition. It brings together celebrities, fashion designers, and influential figures from various industries, all dressed in elaborate and avant-garde outfits that adhere to a specific theme. The event serves as a fundraising platform, with proceeds going towards supporting the Costume Institute's exhibitions and acquisitions.

Over the years, the MET Gala has gained significant media attention and has become known for its breathtaking red carpet looks and innovative fashion statements. It has also become a coveted invitation, with a guest list that includes A-list celebrities, fashion icons, and influential individuals from around the world.

Karl Lagerfeld

Karl Lagerfeld was a German fashion designer and photographer best known for his work as the creative director of Chanel, the legendary French fashion house founded by Coco Chanel[1]. He was born on September 10, 1933, in Hamburg, Germany, to Elisabeth and Otto Lagerfeld. Lagerfeld's father owned a company that produced and imported evaporated milk, and his maternal grandfather was a local politician.

Throughout his career, Lagerfeld played a significant role in the modern revival of Chanel, bringing his own creative vision to the iconic fashion house. He worked tirelessly to uphold the brand's legacy, creating innovative designs and maintaining its reputation as one of the leading luxury fashion brands in the world.

Lagerfeld's creative influence extended beyond Chanel, as he also collaborated with other fashion houses such as Fendi and his eponymous label. He was known for his distinctive personal style, often seen wearing high collars, sunglasses, and fingerless gloves.

In addition to his work in fashion, Lagerfeld was also an accomplished photographer and a prominent figure in the industry[1]. He captured his own unique vision through the lens, often showcasing his photography in exhibitions and books.

Sadly, Lagerfeld passed away on February 19, 2019, in Paris, France, leaving behind a lasting legacy in the world of fashion.

Take away points from the talk; It got interesting with the Q&A, some people asked difficult questions to Andrew, ones that I do think he would rather avoid. The MET gala mainly only works with established multi million/ billion pound brands, and one of the audience's questions; why are up and coming brands or less established brands not asked to take part? He articulated his answer very well simply saying they are working on this and are trying to make it more accessible and inclusive to all brands. Overall, Andrew's knowledge of the fashion industry is commendable and I am a big fan of his work.


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