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Why This Year’s Met Gala Is Already Controversial

Not everyone is happy with the Gala's choice to honor Karl Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld Getty Images/Kristy Sparow

On Monday evening, the 2023 Met Gala will be held in New York City. The buzzy event, held yearly by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, usually offers up a slew of social media moments and memes. However, this edition has already caused a kerfuffle due to its controversial theme.

This year, guests will be wearing looks that honor Karl Lagerfeld, the influential designer who served as Chanel’s creative director for over three decades. Michaela Coel, Penélope Cruz, Dua Lipa, Roger Federer and Anna Wintour are the gala’s co-chairs. Lagerfeld’s legacy will also be explored through an accompanying exhibition entitled, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” which The Met said is meant to honor his “diverse and prolific body of work unparalleled in the history of fashion.” 

However, not everyone was happy to hear Lagerfeld was being honored. Throughout his career, the designer was known for making insensitive comments. For instance, HuffPost reports that when discussing the #MeToo movement in an interview, he 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. They’re recruiting, even!” 

When discussing the representation of body sizes in the media, NBC News reports that Lagerfeld said:  “You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothing is about ‘dreams and illusions.’”  

The Daily Beast’s Sara Ziff wrote that models often don’t have a voice in the fashion industry, and the honoring of Lagerfeld’s career underscores that issue: “The dissonance of an industry that claims to be progressive (ostensibly celebrating body positivity and survivors) and then reveres figures like Lagerfeld without even acknowledging their regressive views, perfectly encapsulates the problem.” 

Amy Odell, who wrote a biography of Wintour, pointed out to Time that the Vogue editor in chief was close friends with Lagerfeld, and noted that she has been the chairwoman of the event since 1995. “This is an industry that is built on elitism and illusion and people don’t want to acknowledge fault lines,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable to talk about these things and that makes people not want to buy into the fantasy that is fashion.”

Met Gala organizers did not immediately respond to Robb Report‘s request for comment for this story.

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