The 2023 Met Gala’s Karl Lagerfeld theme evokes criticism and controversy for some

The Metropolitan Museum of Art is readying for its 2023 Met Gala on Monday night, and once again, the theme of the yearly black-tie fund-raiser for the Met’s Costume Institute is a controversial one.

This year’s exhibition is “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” honoring the artistic contributions of the late fashion designer.

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“Karl Lagerfeld was one of the most captivating, prolific and recognizable forces in fashion and culture, known as much for his extraordinary designs and tireless creative output as for his legendary persona,” Max Hollein, the Marina Kellen French director at the Met, said in a statement when the theme was announced last fall.

But Lagerfeld was also known for being cruel, cutting and petty, someone who “offended people left and right” during his lifetime, as New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote after the designer’s death in 2019.

Among Lagerfeld’s most scandalous statements: He disparaged #MeToo, telling the fashion magazine Numéro that he was “fed up” with the movement. He expressed fatphobic beliefs, claiming in an interview with the German magazine Focus that “no one wants to see curvy women” and that it’s “fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television” who criticize thin women.


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Lagerfeld spoke out against same-sex marriage and gay male couples adopting babies, telling Vice in 2010 that he “believe[d] more in the relationship between mother and child than in that between father and child.” And he dinged former German Chancellor Angela Merkel for welcoming Syrian refugees, saying on the French talk show “Salut les Terriens” that “one cannot — even if there are decades between them — kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.”

German designer Karl Lagerfeld joins models, from left, American Cindy Crawford, Canadian Linda Evangelista and Claudia Schiffer of Germany after the presentation of his 1996 spring-summer ready-to-wear fashion collection for Chanel in Paris on Oct. 19, 1995.

In more individualized critiques, Lagerfeld also described English singer-songwriter Adele as “a little too fat” and said the late Princess Diana was “pretty and sweet” but “stupid.” He also called a German journalist “some horrible, ugly woman” and said famed artist Andy Warhol was physically “quite repulsive.”

“If Karl was at the peak of his career in today’s landscape he would be called out for some of the problematic comments he made, and rightly so,” said Grazia editor in chief Hattie Brett.

German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld poses during the presentation of his fragrance 'KL' in Hamburg, Germany on July 29, 1982.

After the Met Gala announced this year’s Lagerfeld theme, actor and activist Jameela Jamil slammed the decision.

“Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out there who aren’t bigoted white men?” Jamil wrote on Instagram in October. “What happened to everyone’s principles and ‘advocacy.’ You don’t get to stand for justice in these areas, and then attend the celebration of someone who reveled in his own public disdain for marginalized people. Sorry, but no. This isn’t the 90s. We didn’t fight all this s—t just to throw it all away because some white guy made some pretty clothes for people’s skinny faves … come on now.”

With News Wire Services


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