Why Did This Year’s Met Gala Leave a Bad Taste in Our Mouths?

Unless you’re currently residing under a rock (which could be likely in the cost of living crisis), chances are that you’re aware of this year’s theme, Karl Lagerfeld, and all the gobsmacking stories that come with it. A close friend of Anna Wintour, this iconic German designer and photographer earned himself a tribute because of his fashion genius, as well as his extremely conscientious – and downright unlikeable – character. In my opinion, the majority of attendees this year came, and served. However before we jump straight to appreciating juicy fit details, let’s get the facts straight about the man they all gathered to memorialise. There’s been countless arguments throughout the years, debating whether it’s possible to disconnect the art from the artist. Many disagreed with the decision to ‘celebrate’ a controversial figure, regardless of their contributions to the fashion industry. It’s reported that chief curator Andrew Bolton purposefully chooses themes that generate conversation, but was this too much?

Lagerfeld, who died in 2019, worked with brands such as Chloe, Balmain, Fendi and Patou before becoming Chanel’s creative director in 1983. His creative flair revived the brand’s signature and its image, which was considered ‘near-dead’ after the death of Coco Chanel ten years before his arrival, adding shoulder-pads, shortening skirts and raising heel heights. Referred to as the chameleon of fashion, this man very obviously revolutionised the future of fashion, but at what cost? 

With a controversial persona that he himself even acknowledged, Karl’s multiple unapologetic comments have shaken the fashion industry and the wider pop-culture society. Nicknamed “the Kaiser,” Karl’s portfolio of trip-ups fall nothing short of racist, homophobic, misogynistic and fat shaming. Time Magazine reported that he referred to fashion as “the healthiest motivation for losing weight.” He was open with his disgust towards women larger than the typical runway model size. He also said that “no one wants to see a curvy body” in response to another magazine that was using ‘real women’ in their spreads. In a 2012 interview with Channel 4, he insinuated that being ‘overweight’ is “more dangerous and bad for your health” than being anorexic. 

He was critiqued for painting the face of a model for a German magazine in 2010, and in 1994, sent a model down the runway with sacred muslim text embroidered on her dress. He was a critic of the #MeToo movement, explaining that he was ‘fed up’ with it after his friend, stylist Karl Templer, was accused of sexual misconduct. He stated that; “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.”

The list goes on, but unfortunately, so did this year’s Met Gala theme. So how did our celebrity guest-list respond? 

There were those who chose to don themselves in pieces of history, honouring Chanel’s classic and timeless styles. Margot Robbie wore a remade gown worn by Cindy Crawford in 1993, while Dua Lipa donned an amazing ball gown from the Autumn/ Winter 1992 Haute Couture Collection. It’s impossible not to mention those who paid tribute to Lagerfeld’s iconic cat, Choupette. Doja Cat and Lil Nas X both arrived head to toe in striking, shimmering elegance, until you noticed the slight feline characteristics added to their faces. Jared Leto, however, took the more drastic approach, dressed in a full cat costume with a removable Choupette-shaped head. There were those who took a more literal approach to the theme, such as Lily Collins, who wore ‘Karl’ on the train of her dress. Jeremy Pope’s custom Balmain consisted of a 30-foot train with the designer’s face, made from ‘5000 metres of silk chiffon’. 

Following 2022’s Met Gala, where many challenged the theme with controversial text and juxtaposing styles, we saw less of this for Karl’s attribution. This could have been as a result of a tightened guest list or a reprimand from Ms Wintour herself. However, of course, the public have their theories. Lagerfeld famously said; “think pink. But don’t wear it.” This may have pushed many celebrities, such as Viola Davis, Ashley Graham and Precious Lee, to get dolled up in stunning, statement pink outfits. Russian model Irina Shayk put comfort before fashion at the afterparty, wearing sweatpants and a tank top, an obvious dig at Lagerfeld’s ideology that buying a pair was a “sign of defeat.”

For more information about Karl’s controversy, check out Jamila Jamil’s instagram page. She shared her misgivings toward the Met Gala theme with her followers, uncovering plenty of stomach-twisting reasons as to why it’s problematic. 

​​”Last night Hollywood and fashion said the quiet part out loud when a lot of famous feminists chose to celebrate at the highest level, a man who was so publicly cruel to women, to fat people, to immigrants and to sexual assault survivors,” she said.  
Hear India and Alyssa talk more about the Met Gala outfits in the latest episode of Cataclysm.

By India Curtain

Header image via Vogue

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