Karl Lagerfeld: the inspiration behind the 2023 Met Galaipernity/Siebbi

“Meow. Meow meow. Meow meow, meow meow meow.” No, I promise I haven’t entirely descended into exam-fuelled insanity. That was just a quote from Doja Cat about this year’s Met Gala – Jared Leto’s team failed to respond. Lil Nas X only replied with a bored purr.

For those of you who haven’t been procrastinating revision by judging Met Gala looks while wearing the same gyp-stench infused cardigan for the past week, let me explain my madness. Following this year’s theme: “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty”, these three celebrities decided the best way to honour the deceased Chanel designer, would be to dress up as his much-loved cat, Choupette. Choupette herself was rather sadly declined a spot on the Colgate-esque carpet, making room for the entry of the infamous cockroach (RIP) instead. True to her name, Doja Cat fully committed to the role by responding to interview questions with meows. Much ridicule has been directed at these celebs for playing dress-up on one of the biggest nights of fashion, but, compared to the monotonous sea of black and white that flooded the rest of the carpet, it was nice to see some variety. In a bout of true inspiration, every other celebrity dully paid homage by wearing the same wide white collar and black suit that Lagerfeld was known for. Yes, some like Janelle Monáe did it in more interesting ways than others. But, overall, the black-and-white outfits made the night look closer to a gathering of penguins than a fashion show. Surely, for the Met Gala of all events, you want to be going more peacock than penguin.

“Surely, for the Met Gala of all events, you want to be going more peacock than penguin”

However, there are much more serious criticisms of the evening to be made than its plainness. The chosen theme itself needed some serious interrogation. As well as his dazzling designs and impressive legacy, like many in the fashion industry, Lagerfeld has many skeletons hidden his extremely well-stocked closet. In response to the #MeToo movement, he said he was “fed up” of the victims’ complaints and reports, and: “if you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model!”. He misogynistically questioned the lack of witnesses and why it took these women so long to report their sexual assault. He was also notoriously fatphobic, insisting that no one wants to see plus-size models on the runway. Rather, he put his own sufficiently-skinny white models into blackface and yellowface. While many of these issues have been widely discussed on social media, much of his more horrific moments have been largely hushed up. He critiqued Angela Merkel for opening up the German border to Syrian immigrants. This anti-immigration sentiment was then pushed to even more horrific extremes when he backed up his xenophobia by claiming: “I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said: ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust’”.

“The monotony of black-and-white outfits matched Lagerfeld’s legacy: undiverse and close-minded”

The idea that a whole night of celebration could be dedicated to such a man is, to say the least, rather terrifying. Following his death in 2019, many celebrities, including his “muse” Cara Delevingne and close friend and Met Gala host, Anna Wintour, uncritically praised the designer. Yes, he was a talented creator and innovator, but the separation of art and artist can only be pushed for far, especially when the artist’s backward views find themselves displayed in the work itself. His sexism, fatphobia and racism could be seen right before your eyes in the models he put on his runways. It is a sickening hypocrisy to see so many celebrities parading around in honour of a man who represented so much hate. The same celebrities who claimed to be supporters of the #MeToo movement, now celebrating an outspoken and ardent adversary to their cause.


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As usual, on a night that is meant to demonstrate the power of fashion, the Met Gala failed to do anything revolutionary. Despite my hope that somebody would use the clothes on their body to craftily rebel against Lagerfeld, nobody followed through. Of course, there was the occasional celebrity supporting pink – a potential pastel-painted middle finger to the designer who once said: “think pink, but don’t wear it.” However, it would be a rather feeble protest if that was its intention. At least they put some colour on.

And yet, there was somewhat of a poetic irony in how perfectly the monotony of black-and-white outfits matched Lagerfeld’s legacy: undiverse and close-minded. You would hope that the fashion industry would want to progress beyond its problematic past of “whitewashed heroin” chic, but this night only proved that it’s not yet ready to confront those closet-hidden skeletons. I can only hope that Doja Cat’s meows were cries of protest against this uncritical honouring. But, as ever, the celebrities easily succumbed to a night of glitz, glamour and unthoughtful frivolity, instead of interrogating the atrocious things their much-loved Lagerfeld stood for.