Photography is part of my life. It completes the circle between my artistic and professional restlessness,” the celebrated fashion designer, artist, photographer and filmmaker Karl Lagerfeld once said.
And to the delight of lovers of photography and good art, three years ago in Havana, on May 3, 2016, the creative genius presented Obra en proceso / Work in Progress. This comprehensive vision of his professional and private photography explored the wide range of motifs, styles and techniques that defined the tenacious and kaleidoscopic outlook of the “Kaiser,” who passed away on February 19 of this year at the age of 85.
Curated by Eric Pfrunder and Gerhard Steidl, the exhibition, which was divided into three sections, articulated the artist’s thematic focus: fashion, architecture and landscape, in over 200 photographs from his collection. The natural and urban landscapes captured by the fearless lens, often in pursuit of renewing fashion photography, distinguished Lagerfeld’s work and identified him as a meticulous photographer who showed the spectrum of his vision and inspiration, tinged by the use of different exposure and printing techniques. The gallery for contemporary art Factoría Habana, located in the Historic Center of the Cuban capital, was the venue chosen for the exhibition by the famous designer of fashion house Chanel. His unique, unmistakable and brilliant stamp was present in serigraphs, inkjet prints and Polaroid transfers, which were enthusiastically admired in the city where the marvelous and the real meet.
The professionalism, and unique and well-structured style that defined Karl Lagerfeld’s work throughout his life were shown to the world once again, this time in one of Havana’s most emblematic areas: the tree-shaded promenade known as Paseo del Prado.
The prêt-à-porter line for the 2016-2017 Cruise Collection allowed us to get into contact with French haute couture, in which elegance and exclusivity prevailed. In total harmony with the colorful architecture and lush foliage, the distinctive character of the Chanel show became an unprecedented event in the world of fashion. The direct representation of Havana by “the king of fashion”—as he was also called thanks to his talent and new vision in the art of photography and design—was present, for example, in his vintage car prints under his clear, precise and refined line. The collection combined photography and design and was presented for the first time in a Latin American country.
Good taste and the audacity of the contemporary converged in that month of French culture on the Island. The respectful atmosphere and joint collaboration between the Factoría Habana staff, Chanel’s iconic creative director, the Embassy of France in Cuba and the Office of the Historian of Havana made possible an event that left an indelible mark on Cuba’s capital and an unforgettable imprint of Lagerfeld’s work dedicated to Havana, a city that is master of time and which embraces both modernity and tradition all in the same breath. ▪