As much care is given to documenting Costume Institute exhibitions as staging them. Still, the stakes for creating the Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty catalog were extraordinarily high. It’s established fact that the designer was a consummate bibliophile. “For decades he bought between one and two dozen books a day,” reported Lagerfeld’s biographer Alfons Kaiser. The designer had his own imprint, with Gerhard Steidl, as well as a bookshop of his own, 7L.
Curator Andrew Bolton and his team worked with the British design firm OK-RM on the exhibition catalog, which consists of four books bound together into one, using a process that mirrors Lagerfeld’s own, in that it involved hand and machine, or manus x machina. (As it happens, the hero piece of the 2016 exhibition of that name was a Chanel couture dress to which Lagerfeld added an additional three meters of train at the museum’s request.) Additionally, labels on the front cover and spine have the effect of engravings achieved using a “high-density silkscreen” technique. And as Lagerfeld loved paper, nine different types were used, both to distinguish themes and enhance the tactile experience.