Met Gala’s Karl Lagerfeld Theme Sparks Controversy: Here’s Why
The entertainment and fashion world is buzzing with controversy after the confirmation of this year’s Met Gala theme – Karl Lagerfeld. While some are looking to pay tribute to the late iconic fashion designer, many are also criticizing the decision.
Two weeks before the announcement, the High Fashion Twitter Met Gala team posted on Twitter that they would not be holding their typical digital companion event to the yearly Costume Institute Benefit.
The team shared the reason for their disapproval. They said their values do not conform with the choice of Karl Lagerfeld as the Met Gala 2023 theme, as the event is referred to as “fashion’s biggest night.”
The discussion around Lagerfeld’s complicated history as an iconic designer who also had a tendency for problematic quips that were racist, fat-phobic, and misogynistic has arrived at a fever pitch in the time after the announcement that the late designer will be the inspiration for Met Gala.
— Pop Base (@PopBase) May 1, 2023
The theme was titled Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. It was a display of Lagerfeld’s 150 stylish designs along with his sketches. The team’s reaction is just a part of the broader longtime dialogue.
For HFT Met Gala coordinator and Twitter user @raphlecia, the group decision to skip the event was easy. She never wanted to celebrate a legacy she felt tainted by harsh sentiments.
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She said, “A lot of us are actually part of the communities that Karl Lagerfeld has targeted in his hateful speech.”
Karl Lagerfeld dominated the fashion world for over three decades with his designs. The iconoclastic designer was well-known for his stunning fashion shows, innovative designs, and branding wits, both professionally and personally.
He was the creative director for Fendi and Chanel. The latter being his own eponymous brand. One of his defining characteristics was his ability to channel his leadership into becoming a public personality.
Lagerfeld also created the persona of “the Kaiser,” a distant, ponytail-sporting, sunglass-wearing image of himself that cultivated him to as much attention as his Chanel designs. He was also well-known for his lack of filter and sharp tongue.
Primped and prepped. Who else is ready for the First Monday in May? 💅
Only four days until the #MetGala, which celebrates the opening of "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty." Follow along on Monday for art, fashion, and more.
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— The Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum) April 28, 2023
His sharp criticisms also placed him in the spotlight. He was never ashamed of insulting women’s bodies. Though he had body issues before losing 92 lbs in a year, he often gave unsolicited critiques to other public personalities.
He once called Adele “too fat” and Heidi Klum “too heavy” while also criticizing organizations involving body positivity. He once made horrendous claims that anorexia wasn’t as dangerous as TV and junk food.
In 2017, he made an unusual connection between German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open the country’s borders to Syrian refugees and the Holocaust. He said that even if there were decades of difference, one couldn’t kill millions of Jews so that they could bring tons of their enemies into their place.
He also said fashion was “the healthiest motivation for losing weight.” In an interview with European fashion magazine Numero in 2018, he said he was “fed up” with the #MeToo movement for sexually abused individuals.
In that same interview, he also disagreed about the new fashion guidelines that may ensure models’ safety on set. He said, “If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery. There’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!”
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Many have condemned these remarks, arguing that they promoted unhealthy attitudes toward body image and created damaging stereotypes. Despite his popularity for these stark comments, his notoriety won’t be included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition.
Overall, Lagerfeld’s legacy as a great innovator in the fashion industry will remain despite his reputation. His work had a substantial impact on the way fashion is marketed and designed. He was never afraid to experiment with new designs while pushing limits.