Met Gala is here, but 2023 theme celebrating designer Karl Lagerfeld remains controversial

Amrutha Pagad
Amrutha PagadApr 27, 2023 | 10:23

Met Gala is here, but 2023 theme celebrating designer Karl Lagerfeld remains controversial

Met Gala 2023 theme to celebrate Karl Lagerfeld. Photo: Twitter/KarlLagerfeld

Fashion's biggest event Met Gala is around the corner. May 1 will witness a sea of who's who from entertainment, fashion and politics descend on the red carpet in awe-inspiring outfits. But this year's theme for Met Gala isn't without its share of controversy. 

What's the theme?

Met Gala 2023's theme is "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty", which will see the Costume Institute exhibition celebrate the full work and life of German fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. The dress code is simply, "in honour of Karl."


Why is the theme criticised?

There are so far not a lot of voices criticising the theme, but there are a few rare and big ones. 

British actor and activist Jameela Jamil came out condemning the choice of the theme by Met Gala asking, "Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out there who aren't bigoted white men?"

Then there is the High Fashion Twitter Met Gala, which also said that they won't be celebrating this year's Met Gala theme as their values don't align. The HF Twitter Met Gala was started by a group of internet friends who decided to make the event more inclusive and democratic by hosting a similar event online with the same theme in 2020. 

Why is the theme criticised? 

The reason is - Karl Lagerfeld. The German fashion designer who helmed several high fashion brands such as Balmain, Chanel, Fendi and Chloé as well as his own brand named Karl Lagerfeld, didn't die without leaving a controversial legacy. 


Karl Lagerfeld has been accused of spewing fat-phobic, homophobic, misogynist, Islamophobic comments during his career. As Jamil says in this video below, these comments weren't made by him ages ago and were later dug up.

Lagerfeld made these comments consistently throughout his career and never apologised for any of them. 

Some of his problematic statements include these:

  • In 2017, Karl Lagerfeld criticised the then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to open up the country for Syrian refugees saying this on a French talk show:
You cannot kill millions of Jews and then take in millions of their worst enemies afterwards… I know someone in Germany who took in a young Syrian, and after four days said: 'The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.'
  • He fat-shamed a lot of celebrity women including Adele and Heidi Klum. And he also told a German magazine that no one wants to see a curvy woman.  
She (Adele) is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice.
  • Karl Lagerfeld also criticised sexual assault survivors and the #MeToo movement. When asked about sexual assault accusations against his stylist, Karl Templer, Lagerfeld replied with this: 
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!
  • There are too many problematic instances to count. He also once called American visual artist Andy Warhol physically repulsive and called one too many people, especially feminist women, "ugly". 

What is Karl Lagerfeld known for? 

Karl Lagerfeld did not make anything new in the fashion scene. He's mostly credited with making old fashion houses relevant in modern times and reinventing them. 

Regardless, this year's Met Gala guests including Kim Kardashian (turns out rumours of her not being invited are untrue) will attend the event either in some of Lagerfeld's "creations", brands he helmed or reinvent his own signature style or that of his pet cat Choupette, for whom he left much of his fortune. 

Last updated: April 27, 2023 | 10:38
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