Warning: discussion of sexual assault.
Earlier this week, the 2023 Met Gala was revealed to be Karl Lagerfeld-themed — an announcement that's already garnered controversy.
If you're unfamiliar with Karl's work, he was the creative director of Chanel, Fendi, and his own label. The Met Gala will coincide with the Met's exhibition "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty" — which will see around 150 pieces paired with Lagerfeld's original sketches.
However, the designer has been the subject of criticism throughout his career. In particular, his anti-fat language surrounding women's bodies has been called "cruel" — even explicitly saying "no one wants to see round women" when the magazine Brigitte announced that it would use "ordinary, realistic" women over models in 2009.
Then there's Lagerfeld's murky history with sexual assault. He sent flowers to accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He defended stylist Karl Templer after he was accused of sexual assault and said, "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" and said he was "fed up" with the Me Too movement.
He had Claudia Schiffer appear in blackface and yellowface in 2008. He called Muslims the "worst enemies" of Jewish people in 2017 while criticizing the acceptance of refugees in France. Indeed, much of this was reexamined following his death in 2019.
Subsequently, following the Met's announcement, many took to social media to criticize the theme. This included Jameela Jamil, who has been a vocal critic of Lagerfeld for years:
@PopBase A line of racism, fat phobia and a hatred of the Me Too movement. Excited to see all the ladies celebrate this great lover of women!
"This man...was indeed, supremely talented, but used his platform in such a distinctly hateful way, mostly toward women, so repeatedly and up until the last years of his life, showing no remorse, offering no atonement, no apology, no help to groups he attacked," she continued on Instagram. "There was no explanation for his cruel outbursts."
"Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out who aren't bigoted white men?" she added. "We didn't fight all this shit just to throw it all away because some white guy made some pretty clothes for people's skinny faves...come on now."
Jameela was far from the only one questioning the theme:
Regarding the next Met Gala theme focused on Karl Lagerfeld.As much as he contributed to the fashion industry, we should not be celebrating a person who made fatphobic, racist, and sexist comments throughout his career.
Karl Lagerfeld defended the sexual assault of models and contributed to the stigma around coming forward years after an assault. He will be rewarded next year as the theme of “fashion’s biggest night,” because there is no consequence for defending sexual assault.
Oooh, people can show up on the red carpet and recite their favorite Karl Lagerfeld quotes about fat people, sexual assault, immigrants and the Holocaust. So many to choose from. Bravo, Anna Wintour. Great choice: https://t.co/gxb4Bs2sgr https://t.co/FJKCLYXYmv
You can read more about Lagerfeld's controversial moments here.
If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here.