With the magnificent setting of the 10 B.C. Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art as the backdrop for Chanel’s latest Métiers d’Art show, Karl Lagerfeld was thinking of a chic mash-up of Ancient Egypt and New York itself. The collection was designed to showcase the small miracles wrought by the house’s fournisseurs. These embroiderers, feather workers, button-makers, costume jewelers, fabric weavers, milliners, and shoemakers are flourishing anew thanks to Chanel’s taking their once waning ateliers and supporting them under the company’s Paraffection subsidiary.
To set the scene, the moat that surrounds the temple in the museum’s dedicated gallery had been planted with thickets of papyrus, the structure itself partially hidden from the view of guests by a high temporary wall to create a more dramatic sense of arrival to this most storied of Manhattan landmarks, albeit a relatively recent implant. (In 1963 the temple was removed from its site in the flood plain that would soon be created by the Aswan Dam and subsequently gifted to the United States by the Egyptian government in recognition of the help provided in rescuing it and other monuments threatened in the same way.)