He’s not dressing up like Choupette from head to toe, nor is he rocking vintage Fendi, Chloé or Chanel. Still, Loic Prigent’s performance at the Met Gala was as impactful as any guest. That’s because Prigent, a French radio fashion journalist whose witty and insightful films are considered one of the most compelling in fashion, played a vital role in creating the exhibition the evening commemorates.
Staging “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” presents curator Andrew Bolton with a vexing curatorial challenge: how to gracefully unravel, classify and convey an The astonishing result of a knowledgeable designer with disruptive wit who has worked for the brand for 7 years? In a way, Bolton found his answer through the work of Prigent, who was first invited by Lagerfeld around the turn of the century to photograph his work at Chanel, and continued to do so until Lagerfeld’s last fitting.
Prigent’s footage captures time and time again the charming authority with which Lagerfeld portrays his designs. Each example of this sure-fire draftsmanship sometimes serves as a coding template from which the premiere or senior studio manager of each house Lagerfeld works for can shape the costumes he envisions. When Bolton heard these premieres discuss the process at Lagerfeld’s memorial service, his curatorial curiosity was ignited, and he approached Prigent to help share that expertise with the Met audience. In the show, these interviews air alongside Lagerfeld’s looks, whose concept his premiere is telling. Prigent was also instrumental in the shots of Lagerfeld himself.
While he’s usually the one asking the questions, Prigent agreed to answer some of our questions; about Karl, his craft, the show, and what he’s best known for in Lagerfeld – also Outrageous – a lesser-known character in one of the fashion shows.
Bonjour Loic Prigent! Can you first talk about how you got into the fashion industry and how you got into the track of Karl Lagerfeld?
I’m a farmer’s kid from Brittany in Northwest France. I first ventured to Paris because I wanted to cover fashion, and at first I thought it might be for a magazine or newspaper. So I was studying journalism in college and doing doujinshi on the side, and that’s how the newspaper Jiefang first noticed me. I started freelancing for them in the mid ‘s when I first met Karl. Liberation has a very eccentric approach to fashion; they take it very seriously but not at the same time. And I think that’s how I developed a sense that I don’t always have a lot of respect for fashion—that I have the ability to appreciate it when it gets arrogant or ridiculous, and to laugh it off.