Met Gala snubs Karl Lagerfeld’s blue-collar American family
Here’s one Karl Lagerfeld creation that won’t be at Monday’s Met Gala.
Caroline Wilcox got the gift of a lifetime in 1992 when her wedding dress designed by “Uncle Karl” arrived via Concorde.
It’s still her most precious possession and casts a new light on the notoriously eccentric designer who once proclaimed he had “no family” — but actually had a sister, nephews, nieces, great-nephews, and great-nieces in blue-collar Portland, Connecticut.
None will be at the Met Gala Monday when Vogue’s Anna Wintour honors her favorite designer after his 2019 death, despite the impactful yet infrequent role the enigmatic fashion icon played in some of their childhoods.
And the story of how he designed a small-town girl’s dress will also be missing from the Met’s exhibition of his creations, which will open after the star-studded gala.
“There was a phone call that my mother and I made to him, and I said, ‘I’m getting married,’” Caroline told the BBC in a new documentary, “The Mysterious Mr. Lagerfeld.”
“And he said, ‘Of course, I shall make the dress. And I was speechless.” Lagerfeld sent sketches from Paris and promised to make his niece look “tall and thin,” while her mother sent measurements.
“And I drew my foot on a piece of paper and faxed that to him and then heard nothing. And I wasn’t worried at all. The dress did not come until the day before the wedding.
“Everyone was just waiting to see this dress because by then, I was talking about it a lot,” Wilcox told the BBC. “Like, how exciting is this?”
Wilcox, now 63, keeps the dress at home in Portland – a town outside Hartford with no high-fashion red carpets and little haute couture, and where Lagerfeld last visited his family in 1974 to see his sister Christiane Johnson at her home in Portland.
But Monday’s Lagerfeld-themed affair will have no signs of Caroline’s dress, as well as his long-haul trucker nephew, Roger Johnson, also of Portland, Connecticut.
Johnson, 57, said he only met Lagerfeld, 85, who died in Paris of pancreatic cancer in 2019, as a child.
“I’ve met him several times,” Johnson told The Post Thursday. “But we lived on different continents. I would not say we had a relationship.”
Johnson said he won’t be inheriting any of his uncle’s estimated $223 million estate, some of which may be going to his beloved cat, Choupette.
The feline is expected to turn heads herself along the red carpet Monday at the annual gala.
“Nah, negative,” Johnson said of feeling if he or his siblings had any claim to a slice of Lagerfeld’s fortune. “And I probably would deny it. Money doesn’t mean anything to me. I’m just a regular guy, dude.”
Johnson, who lives on a quiet street along the banks of the Connecticut River, declined to further discuss his relationship – or lack thereof – with Lagerfeld, who primarily lived in Paris.
“He was a very private person,” Johnson said. “I live my own life … I have nothing to say, especially about him.”
In 2015, Lagerfeld told the New York Times Magazine he had “no family at all” despite his growing entourage of chiseled models.
“I have a sister in America who I haven’t seen for 40 years,” Lagerfeld said. “Her children never even send me a Christmas card.”
Christiane Johnson, then 83, told the Daily Mail in January 2015 she had not seen her brother since the 1970s, but still exchanged letters with the designer, and had Coca-Cola, his drink of choice waiting for him in case of a surprise drop-in.
Christiane, who grew up with her brother Karl in Hamburg, Germany, had moved to the United States in 1957 to work as an au pair for a family in Seattle, where she met Robert Johnson, a World War II Navy veteran.
The couple married and had four children: Caroline, Roger, Paul, and Karl, named for his uncle, but who tragically died in a motorcycle crash at 18.
Christiane died in October 2015, aged 84.
Her husband died in December 2014 aged 92.
Wilcox and Lagerfeld’s nephew, Paul Johnson, 56, who lives in Texas, could not be reached for comment on how organizers for “fashion’s biggest night” should pay tribute to their late uncle.
Choupette, meanwhile, is prepping in Paris with Kim Kardashian ahead of Monday’s fête.
Fashion’s most-famous feline has thus far been noncommittal on her attendance.
But fashionistas can expect to see Paris Hilton, who has confirmed she’ll make her first appearance at the Met Gala.
Wintour selected Dua Lipa, Penélope Cruz, Roger Federer, and Michaela Coel as co-hosts for the gala honoring Lagerfeld’s looks for Chanel, Fendi, Chloé, Balmain, and his eponymous brand.
“In honor of Karl,” the high-society event’s dress code states.