Actors, models, musicians and more luminaries brought their A-game when it came to over-the-top fabulous looks that fit the theme “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” but a case can be made for the top accolades to go to those with an intimate connection to the inimitable fashion juggernaut — his hand-picked muses during his time at Chanel.
While Lagerfeld had a storied body of work, designing for Fendi, Chloe, Patou and his own eponymous label, it was his 36-year tenure at French fashion house Chanel from 1983 to the time of his death in 2019 that cemented his iconic status as an arbiter of not just style, but of culture itself.
Never was this more evident than through his choice of spokesmodels — the German creative director surrounded himself with a bevy of muses who reflected pop culture and literally brought the evolution of the brand to life.
When Lagerfeld took the reins of the French fashion house in the ‘80s, he breathed new life into a label which, while innovative at its inception, had become stodgy. Enter re-interpreted chains that once hung on the inside of jackets to weigh them down into chunky, multi-layer belts and accessories; shortened hemlines of tweed suits and metallic thread that wound its way into fabrics for a decidedly rock ‘n roll edge. The faces he chose to represent the brand emphasized the updated mood — and deeply influenced pop culture.
French singer Vanessa Paradis was tapped to front the fragrance Coco in 1991; at 5’3” with gap teeth, her unique look during the time of the glamazon supermodels. ushered in the age of waif beauty. Actress Nicole Kidman lent Hollywood grandeur to the No.5. campaign in 2004, starring in a short film directed by Baz Lurhmann (in which Lagerfeld made a cameo.)
Whether it was a model, actress or it-girl about town, whoever appeared as the ‘Couture Bride’ at the end of every Chanel show was clearly the muse of the moment. Supermodel Claudia Schiffer held the coveted role a whopping 11 times!
So how did Chanel spokesmodels of past and present honor the icon at 2023 Met Gala?
Nicole Kidman took a walk down couture memory lane and donned the custom dress she wore in 2004, in her Chanel No.5 ad campaign shot by Baz Luhrmann. The exquisite blush-pink gown is made of silk tulle studded in over 3,000 crystals and sequins with a train of 250 ostrich feathers.
White hot! Gisele Bündchen, who was the face of Chanel No.5 in 2014, starring in a short film that dipped in to Montauk’s epic waves, wore a white silk tulle embroidered dress with vertical stripes of white sequins and a white silk tulle long cape embellished with feathers and camellias, from the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2007 collection.
Believed to be one of Lagerfeld’s main muses of all time and the face of the spirited Chanel Gabrielle fragrance in 2017, Kristen Stewart (who was the sole guest at the Chanel Métiers d’Art Art Show in December of 2020) honored him by rocking a look from the Cruise 2016/17 collection: a white cotton drill jacket with a white silk chiffon blouse and black cotton gabardine pants.
Barbie star Margot Robbie championed Gabrielle Chanel’s feminist spirit as the face of Gabrielle Essence in 2019. She chose a black silk chiffon dress embellished with clear plastic and gold metal chain from the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 1993 collection
Marion Cotillard, the face of No.5 during it’s 100th anniversary year, 2021, wore an archival piece from the. Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2007-2008 collection: a short dress in white organza embroidered with silver sequins.
As the latest heroine in the Coco Mademoiselle story, Gossip Girl alum Whitney Peak is the epitome of the Gen Z Chanel girl. She paid respects to the icon in a white organza top fully embroidered with fantasy flowers with a mermaid skirt from the Haute Couture Fall-Winter 2021/22 collection.
Scroll through to see every ensemble — and get the scoop on the makeup that completed each look!