By Liv Barry
Lifestyle Editor, Incoming Editor-in-Chief
Held annually on the first Monday of May, the Met Gala never fails to stir up celebrity gossip and countless viral moments.
Sometimes referred to as the “Superbowl of fashion” according to previous Elm coverage, the event raises money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, an arm of the museum that houses archival fashion dating from the fifteenth century to today.
This year’s banquet was on Monday, May 1 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Every year, Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour serves as the co-chair of the banquet alongside a group of influential public figures; according to The Hollywood Reporter, writer and actress Michaela Coel, actress Penélope Cruz, tennis player Roger Federer, and singer Dua Lipa were this year’s celebrity co-chairs, assisting Wintour in curating the banquet’s atmosphere.
While the event was highly anticipated, this year’s theme — “In Honor of Karl” — sparked controversy.
The dress code honors the late designer Karl Lagerfeld, who served as the chief designer at Chanel from 1983 until his death in 2019. He is best known for his personal style, which featured structured blazers, duochromatic black-and-white ensembles, and dark-lens sunglasses.
Despite his iconic status in the fashion industry, Lagerfeld has a well-documented history of racist, misogynistic, and fatphobic comments, according to Time. Throughout the 2010s, the designer openly scorned feminism, body positivity, and the #MeToo movement.
In defense of stylist Karl Templer, who was accused of sexual misconduct on set according to The Hollywood Reporter, Lagerfeld 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.”
Upon learning the designer’s comments, fans of the Met Gala took to Twitter to express their dissatisfaction with this year’s dress code.
“We could have had a Vivienne Westwood Met Gala theme if we were sticking with designers who have passed, but instead we were stuck with Karl Lagerfeld, someone who vocally denounced the Me Too movement,” Twitter user @wednesdaysadums said.
On April 17, @HFMetGala, a popular Twitter account that covers the annual event, announced that they would not post about the 2023 gala.
“As we approach the first Monday of May, the HF Twitter Met Gala team would like to announce that we will not be celebrating this year’s met gala as our values don’t align with the selection of Karl Lagerfeld as the theme. We hope to celebrate with our community again soon,” @HFMetGala said.
While the account was met with support, the public’s complaints were not heeded by Wintour or her co-chairs. The red carpet and subsequent banquet was attended by some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and Nicole Kidman.
No attendees publicly denounced Lagerfeld, but a handful declined to dress to the theme.
Co-chair Coel, who won an Emmy for her 2019 BBC series “I May Destroy You” and starred in 2022’s “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” wore a custom Schiaparelli dress on the red carpet.
Elsa Schiaparelli, who ran the fashion house until her death in 1973, was notably a rival of Coco Chanel, who Lagerfeld went on to work under, according to Harper’s Bazaar. Some speculate that this was an intentional choice to push back against the night’s dress code.
However, for some, merely attending the event was an endorsement of Lagerfeld’s bigotry.
“The Good Place” actress Jameela Jamil spoke out against attendees in a statement posted to her Instagram account on May 3.
“A lot of famous feminists chose to celebrate at the highest level, a man who was so publicly cruel to women, to fat people, to immigrants and sexual assault survivors,” Jamil said.
The Met Gala is no stranger to public discourse. According to previous Elm coverage, the annual event garners criticism every year for its “ostentatious display of wealth by celebrities during a time of extreme inequity in the country.”
The 2024 theme is yet to be announced, but the event will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation for years to come.
Photo caption: While designer Karl Lagerfeld dedicated almost 40 years of his career to Chanel, some of his most iconic looks are from his own closet.
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.