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5 Times Karl Lagerfeld Was Inspired by the Arab World

looking back at his love for the region

The first Monday of May, better known to fashion lovers as the Met Gala, is just around the corner. “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” is the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Spring 2023 Costume Institute Exhibition, and “in honor of Karl” is the dress code of fashion’s biggest night, taking place on May 1. As one of the most anticipated—and star-studded—events of the year, the 2023 Met Gala will celebrate the indelible legacy of the German-born designer, who helmed Chanel for 36-years, as well as heading up many different luxury fashion houses throughout his seven-decade career— including Balmain, Patou, Chloé, Fendi, and his own namesake label. In anticipation of fashion’s big night, we look back at all the times the late designer drew inspiration from the Arab world.

Karl Lagerfeld designs an island in Dubai

In 2010, it was announced that the legendary Chanel designer teamed up with prestigious Miami-based architecture firm Oppenheim and the KOR hotel group to create the manmade island, situated 20km off the coast of Dubai. While the project has yet to come into fruition, the resort complex, which was estimated to be completed in 2014, was set to comprise three luxury hotels, 150 residential villas and a host of chic boutiques. Inspired by the floating palaces of India and cruise ships, the venture promised to be the first ever fashion island.

Chanel’s Ancient Egypt-inspired Metiers d’Art show


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In 2018, Lagerfeld presented an Ancient Egyptian-themed Metiers d’Art collection with the Met’s Temple of Dendur, an Ancient Egyptian place of worship dating to 10 B.C., as the backdrop for Chanel’s first New York show in over a decade. The Egyptian theme was far from subtle— models emerged on the runway to the soundtrack of a song titled “Egypt, Egypt” sporting scarab earrings, pyramid-shaped handbags, and Eye of Horus makeup.

Chanel’s Cruise 2015 Show in Dubai

Long before present-day Chanel creative director Virginie Viard chose Dubai to present the brand’s 2021 Cruise collection, the late Lagerfeld staged the Parisian maison’s Resort 2015 show in the tiny emirate. “Because I think it is something that has not existed before, a city coming out of the sea and sand, I think it’s fascinating, like Atlantis,” he said of his obsession with Dubai. For the collection, the designer incorporated elements of Middle Eastern culture, while still staying true to the Chanel DNA, which was most apparent in the voluminous harem trousers and tops embroidered with a sequined version of the Dubai skyline.

Karl Lagerfeld’s collaborations with Aline Asmar D’Amman

Lebanese architect Aline Asmar D’Amman and Karl Lagerfeld teamed up to contribute to the renovation of Hôtel de Crillon, the elite accommodation that has provided a home away from home for presidents, royals, and Hollywood stars for a century. The duo joined forces again to develop a line of timeless, sculptural marble objects.

Vogue Arabia’s September 2017 cover photographed by Karl Lagerfeld


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In 2017, the legendary designer and photographer shot Bella Hadid for Vogue Arabia’s September 2017 cover. The striking Arabic and English covers were shot on location in Lagerfeld’s Paris studio.

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