On a wet Friday night, we went to a book launch and exhibition of Karl Lagerfeld’s photography at midtown Manhattan’s Pace/MacGill Gallery hoping to answer a few questions: First, when a master of the fashion universe has a gallery exhibit, who turns up? Second: What kind of photos would Lagerfeld take? And, lastly, would Lagerfeld himself actually show up, as promised on our invitation?
Here are the answers, short version:
1) Models, people who appear insane, paparazzi
2) Black-and-white soft-core
This last fact—Karl Lagerfeld’s non-presence—kept three rooms of aforementioned models, insane people, and paparazzi in a state of palpable anticipation for two solid hours, followed by one hour of palpable disappointment. As everyone waited, there was little to do but drink wine and look at the many photographs of model Brad Kroenig—the boxed set of books, entitled Metamorphoses of an American, consists entirely of portraits of this blond and buff muse. No food was offered. Karl Lagerfeld doesn’t eat, so why should anyone else? (Though the gallery staff did order pizza for themselves at some point, we noticed. It was the right thing to do.)
With lots of white wine coming on an empty stomach, we should have been primed to see Lagerfeld’s photos as belonging to some great artistic heritage, as Ingrid Sischy argues in the text she provided for the books. Not really. Kroenig is beautiful, and he’s obviously a talented model. But the photos, which chart his evolution from carefree American boy to savvy, world-traveled model, are interesting primarily for their frisson of voyeurism. We want to look at them because we imagine Lagerfeld looking at Kroenig. Then we stop imagining because we feel a little uncomfortable. And then we go home, because Lagerfeld still hasn’t showed up, and the wine has made us sleepy. CAITLIN DOVER
Here’s one more photograph of Brad: