Unseen nighttime portraits of Karl Lagerfeld showcased in Berlin

Unseen nighttime portraits of Karl Lagerfeld showcased in Berlin

Commemorating the one-year anniversary of the influential designer’s death, Hotel de Rome presents a series of unseen photographs exploring Lagerfeld’s personal connection with the city

When German photographer Daniel Biskup heard Karl Lagerfeld would be in Berlin, friends and colleagues warned that the fashion icon wouldn’t permit photographs. It was 2002 and Lagerfeld would be visiting for a pop-up exhibition featuring his own photographs — of musicians as well as behind-the-scenes shots from Chanel campaigns — at a former butchery in Mitte. Not easily discouraged, Biskup went shopping and bought a black cashmere trench coat and black Gucci shirt. Wearing the new garments, he showed up to the vernissage of Lagerfeld’s exhibition, boldly introduced himself in French, and asked if he could make some portraits. Lagerfeld, Biskup says, looked him up and down, paying particular attention to the trench, and said, ‘When everything is finished here, come to me and we will see.’

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Photography: Daniel Biskup, Salz und Silber  

Fast forward a few hours, and from 10pm to 3am, the photographer and designer wandered Berlin’s streets and subway stations, trailed by a security team carrying a crate of Lagerfeld’s drink of choice: Pepsi Light. Almost all of resulting images from that night have remained unseen — until now. Opening today at Hotel de Rome in Berlin is ‘Karl Lagerfeld in Berlin’; an exhibition featuring 20 of Biskup’s intimate portraits, in remembrance of the icon exactly one year after his passing. Accompanying the show, specifically held at Hotel de Rome because it was Lagerfeld’s hotel of choice when in Berlin, is a new coffee table book featuring an even wider selection of Biskrup’s images.

‘People think, "Karl Lagerfeld was so untouchable," but that night, it was completley different’ — Daniel Biskup

In the series of nearly 40 of photographs, we watch Lagerfeld walk through the distinct, orange-tiled corridor at the Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz train station (‘He took this subway station as a runway,’ Biskup remembers); standing on a balcony overlooking Gendarmenmarkt, a picturesque historical square; picking up the pink receiver of a T-Mobile payphone; and even giving autographs to passerby (‘He was so friendly to everyone,’ Biskrup recalls). Lagerfeld took to Biskup’s creative direction, bestowing upon the photographer a type of collaboration that he doesn’t often encounter. ‘It was a big gift, what he did for me that night,’ Biskrup says. ‘People think, "Karl Lagerfeld was so untouchable," but that night, it was completely different.’ §

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