Met Gala ignores Lagerfeld’s controversy

Photo courtesy of Jacqueline Kato, via Wikimedia Commons. This is her caricature of Karl Lagerfeld’s cat Choupette who inspired many of the outfits at the 2023 Met Gala.

By Isabel Hicks

Every year, on the first Monday of May, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, known simply as the MET, hosts its annual Met Gala, a charity event to raise money for the museum’s newest exhibit. The Met Gala is considered one of the most prestigious party invitations in the country, with only Hollywood’s biggest stars and elite being issued an invite. 

This year’s theme was “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” to celebrate the late designer. It was hosted by actress Penelope Cruz, singer Dua Lipa, actress Micheala Coel, and tennis player Roger Federer. The Gala was chaired by none other than Anna Wintour herself, the Editor in Chief of Vogue, who approves all guest lists, brands, and outfits.  

Karl Lagerfeld was a famous German fashion designer who has worked for brands such as Balmain, Chloe, Valentino, Fendi, and others. 

Karl Lagerfeld was well-known for always carrying around his cat named Choupette, which a few attendees channeled into their outfits. Jared Leto came in a full cat costume complete with a detachable head. Doja Cat also drew inspiration from Choupette, wearing an Oscar De La Renta crystal gown with cat-like face makeup and prosthetics.  

Others worked to honor the designer himself with their outfits. Teyana Taylor paid homage to Lagerfeld by wearing her hair in a small ponytail, resembling the one the designer was famous for always wearing. Jeremy Pope even wore a 10 meter long Balmain cape with a profile of Lagerfeld’s face on it in black and white. 

Rihanna came fashionably late, wearing a hooded Valentino dress alongside A$AP Rocky. 

To the surprise of everyone, Blake Lively who is famous for always being perfectly on theme, did not attend this year. Neither did models Bella Hadid, or Lily Rose-Depp, who was known as one of Karl’s favorite models. 

Nicole Kidman wore her original dress from her 2004 Chanel campaign, created by Lagerfeld himself. 

Many have criticized the Met Gala for being out of touch, and an annual reminder of the economic gap between the wealthy and average Americans. 

A ticket to the Gala costs around $35,000, while almost 40 percent of Americans make less than $50,000 a year, according to Statista. Additionally, attendees wore outfits and jewelry costing thousands of dollars. Rihanna herself bragged that each of the flowers on her dress took 30 hours to make, which the public took as an insensitive comment about labor. Although this is a celebration of fashion and art, the people who make said art are neither celebrated nor invited.

The workers who organized the event, made the decorations, the outfits, the jewelry, and everything remain unappreciated and overlooked, while the wealthy are the ones who enjoy the starlight and praise. 

Karl Lagerfeld also has a controversial legacy, which many questioned the MET for supporting. Lagerfeld was known to be extremely fatphobic, and in 2009 said “no one wants to see curvy women.” He also had made it very clear he didn’t support the #MeToo movement, and said, “What shocks me the most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses.”

Lagerfeld, although a gay man himself, was also opposed to gay marriage. “I’m against it for a very simple reason,” he said. “In the ’60s, they all said we had the right to the difference. And now, suddenly, they want a bourgeois life.” 

The MET using Lagerfeld as their theme shows the world how little the fashion industry and Hollywood elite really think of the type of people Lagerfeld bullied, because they easily were able to overlook Lagerfeld’s controversial past and only admire his work. 

As an industry that claims to want to move towards a more inclusive society, the continued endorsement of bigoted names such as Lagerfeld holds us back. Everyone who attended the Gala had something nice to say about Lagerfeld, which erases the problematic statements he said

Although no one can argue that Lagerfeld was not extremely talented as a designer, it is important for us to remember his problematic past and not erase it by paying homage to his work and cherry picking his quotes. 

Author: Plaid Press

Granada Hills Charter High School newspaper