Over a decade ago, Kristen Stewart became close with Karl Lagerfeld who adopted her as one of his muses and ultimately appointed her as a Chanel ambassador—a role she’s held since 2013. It’s this relationship that made the 2023 Met Gala, held in honor of the late designer, so much more than just another red carpet event for the Oscar-nominated actress.
In order to pay tribute to Lagerfeld, Stewart opted for a suit that she’d been thinking about ever since it first hit the Chanel cruise show runway in Cuba in 2016. Working with her stylist Tara Swennen, the star completed the menswear-inspired look which consisted of a cotton drill jacket, black tie, and black gabardine pants with two-tone loafers and a belt featuring the maison’s famous interlocking C’s. For her beauty look, she collaborated with makeup artist Jillian Dempsey and hairstylist Adir Abergel on androgynous styling that honored Lagerfeld beyond the sartorial level.
“We were discussing his influence on us as a work family and the residue he left on our lives,” Abergel said of how Lagerfeld’s impact informed her short tousled hair. “The takeaway was how straight to the quick he was. How without artifice his work was. We wanted to depict a moment in time. The world feels ready to open its eyes and take its mask off. Doing less today felt like a fuller story.”
Here, in her own words, Stewart discusses how she arrived at her ensemble for fashion’s biggest night and shares her memories of Lagerfeld.
What three adjectives would you use to describe Karl Lagerfeld?
Sweetheart. Erudite. Virtuoso.
Can you tell us about your first meeting with him?
I met him in a picture, in a cafe in Paris, shooting with Mario Testino. I remember his strong hands and gentle voice in my ear, discreetly needling everyone else around us. Creating a bubble around us. For someone of his caliber and esteem, I was so struck by his easy humanity. He let me in. His world, when shared, is an unexpectedly warm one. His love of work, art, people, culture, beauty was so deep, so expansive, so enviable, so contagious.
What is your best memory with Karl?
The first campaign we shot for Paris-Dallas was when I really got to spend collaborative time with Karl. Of all the people I have been “shot” by, of all the people I have ever made pictures with he has to be one of, if not the most singular eye that has ever frozen a framed moment with me. He knew exactly when he saw “a moment.” He didn’t question or control, he facilitated, and captured, and was done fast. I always say good things happen fast. Working with him felt like family. I always felt truly seen by Karl. And I met him as a very young woman. So that felt like a generosity. I’m still very thankful for that and the memory of it.
How is the look you wore to the Met Gala iconic to Chanel?
Karl always designed a few menswear looks that would walk out toward the end. I was always amused and excited by that. His hot bodyguards would walk the looks. It was really fun. I think it’s the perfect nod to his love of a high collar and black tie. When the look I chose walked in the cruise show in Cuba I actually had to go to the Met Ball instead and I remember being so jealous and so in love with that suit. Getting to wear it to the Met was a full circle [moment].
How did it feel to share this moment of Karl's Met Gala celebration with Virginie Viard?
The love story and work marriage that I witnessed between them is heart-wrenching. She loves him so much. The respect and the deep understanding is palpable and physical when she speaks about him. I was honored to share the night with her.