Built for Renaissance banker Luca Pitti, Palazzo Pitti, known in English as the Pitti Palace, was also the home of the famous Medici family. Today, the stunning Renaissance palace of Florence, Italy, houses a collection of museums and the beautiful Boboli Garden. Aspects of Italy’s rich history can be seen throughout the museums with the works of Raphael, Titian, and Rubens.
However, there are some more modern exhibitions, including Karl Lagerfeld‘s photography showcase, Visions of Fashion. Lagerfeld’s work seems perfectly placed in the Pitti Palace, since the fashion designer, photographer, director, and publisher seems to be a modern Renaissance man.
Lagerfeld possessed these creative and intelligent qualities from a young age. He was born in 1938 in Hamburg, where he studied multiple languages and was also educated in Paris. In 1954 he won the Woolmark Prize and has worked in the fashion industry in key cities in France, Italy, Britain, and Germany. Lagerfeld has lent his talents to Chloé, Fendi, and most notably, Chanel, where he currently serves as creative director. He has brought a sense of fresh air and modernity to each brand he has worked for, and has carried that over to other industries as well. In 1999 he opened his own book store, 7L bookshop, followed by his publishing company, Editions 7L, in 2000.
“Long before I decided to turn to photography myself, I had always been struck by the idea of expressing my vision of things through anonymous ‘machine’, as though it were a paintbrush or a pencil.”
As Lagerfeld delved deeper into the world of photography, he began shooting all of the campaigns for his brands, fashion magazine and other published editorials, and many of his own works have been published into books. A selection of these photographs are presented in Visions of Fashion.
The full exhibit spans multiple rooms of the Pitti Palace, starting at the grand staircase in front of Galleria Palatina, through the gallery’s rooms, the Sala Bianca, and finally in the two rooms of the Appartamenti degli Arazzi. As you walk into the space of the Galleria Palatina, prints of Lagerfeld’s work, including those of Cara Delevingne in Chanel’s FW ’14 advertising campaign, Coco Coach, Kendall Jenner from her spread in American Harper’s Baazar in 2015, and Claudia Schiffer in German Vogue in 2007. On the wall above the stairs is a neon-lit quote by Lagerfeld that reads “I like fashion to be part of daily life.”
As you walk to the left, through more rooms of Galleria Palatina, Lagerfeld’s Chanel and Fendi advertising campaigns from 2009 to 2016 are presented on LED backlit panels among the many historic works already housed in the gallery. Lagerfeld’s Le Voyage d’Ulysse (2013), is largely displayed as an 18-meter long LED installation in the last room of the Galleria Palatina. It spans the length of the room and is a collection of black and white photos illustrating Homer’s famous poem, the Odyssey.
“Today, photography is part of my life. I can’t see life without the vision of photography. I look at the world and at fashion with the eye of a camera. This enables me to maintain a critical detachment in my everyday work, which helps me more than I could ever have imagined.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Through the ornate doors of the Sala Bianca hang massive paper prints of some of Lagerfeld’s most famous photographs, including those of Natalia Vodianova for Numéro and Cate Blanchett for Australian Vogue. As you wind your way through the banners, the photos transition from black and white to the colored prints of Vodianova and others. The stunning photographs among the elegant chandeliers and ornate interior is truly a sight to behold.
If you find yourself in Italy, see Visions of Fashion by Karl Lagerfeld for yourself, its open now through October 23rd.
-By Rachel Kaplan for The Untitled Magazine