By Nikie Yang
As we all know, the famous party of the year, the Met Gala, was recently held on Monday, May 1st, honouring fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld's life by making him the theme. Although Lagerfeld was regarded as one of the most influential people in the fashion industry, his comments were questionable, bringing us to the question of whether we should separate the art from the artist.
For those who wondered “Who even is Karl Lagerfeld?” when they discovered the Met Gala theme, don’t worry, I had to google him too. You may not know the name or the face behind these iconic designs, but I can assure you that you will be able to recognise these timeless pieces created by Lagerfeld. Karl Lagerfeld was a German designer who rose to fame in the 1950s, working for the top fashion houses such as Balmain, Patou and Chloé, giving them the name they have now thanks to his creative input during his time there. He then worked at Chanel as a creative director until his death, helping transform Chanel into the elegant couture brand it is known as today. Some of his iconic contributions to fashion include Chanel suits, wedding dresses, and the birth of the iconic “CC” logo.
Karls Chanel runway looks
With the mark Karl Lagerfeld made in the fashion industry, leaving his legacy to go on for decades, it wouldn’t be a surprise for the fashion event of the year to have honoured him, right? However, Karl Lagerfeld was significantly vocal and public about his opinions, which were very much stuck in the 50s, making him a controversial figure to be celebrating at such a highly publicised event. Karl Lagerfeld was publicly fatphobic, racist, and misogynistic, often making remarks during interviews or online.
“no one wants to see curvy women” interview with German magazine ‘Focus’ 2009
"You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly.”
“She [Adele] is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice,” interview with Metro in Paris in 2012.
Karl called Muslims, “the worst enemies” of the Jewish people (worse, he implied, than even the Nazis) as a response to the immigrants fleeing to France.
“She wasn’t ugly enough to be a feminist” in reference to Coco Chanel, implying that ugly women are feminists because they use feminism as an excuse for not dating anyone.
He criticized the #metoo movement, in an interview with Numéro magazine (2018) saying he was “fed up” with the movement.
“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants,”
After reviewing these publicly stated comments, it leaves us wondering whether celebrities should have truly honoured a man like this, considering that our society as a whole has progressed beyond his viewpoints. While the Met Gala is an event where high-end celebrities are expected to attend, this year’s theme should serve as a reminder for them to pause and reflect on what they are truly reflecting in society as influential people. Are they inadvertently endorsing the ideas and values of Karl Lagerfeld?, especially when they are paying $50,000 or more for a ticket? Many expected attendees, such as Zendaya, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles, did not go to the Met Gala this year, presumably due to the theme. Those who did attend either avoided interview questions related to Lagerfeld or stated they were only there because of the Met Gala’s status or their outfits, making remarks like, “I’m only here for my dress tonight”.
Although many believe the legacy of Karl Lagerfeld should not be celebrated, there were still celebrities who understood the theme and ATE. Some of the best-dressed individuals in line with the theme include:
Doja Cat who dressed as Karl’s beloved cat (fun fact he left 1.6 million dollars to his cat in his will)
Dua Lipa wore one of Karl's archived Chanel runway looks, and a stunning necklace worth more than $10 million!
Jared Leto, who too went as Karl's beloved cat Choupette.
Anne Hathway wore a stunning Versace dress which incorporated iconic Chanel looks that Karl was known for.
Ultimately, we should all be able to separate the art from the artist, especially considering Karl Lagerfeld created such iconic pieces that revolutionised the fashion industry. However, he shouldn’t be associated with high-profile events like the Met Gala, as it reflects the wrong values for Vogue and all the expected attending celebrities. Instead of solely focusing on him, Vogue should have chosen a theme for this year’s Met Gala that honoured iconic designers throughout history. This would have allowed celebrities who genuinely supported Karl Lagerfeld to pay homage to him on their own terms. In the end, yes, it’s just a party theme, but we shouldn’t be compelled to remember a man who regressed the advancements made for equality with his public remarks and statements.