This is a response to The Significance of The Met Gala.
This month, on May 1st, was the 2023 Met Gala, and the theme for this year was questionable.
This year’s Costume Institute exhibition, “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” celebrates the full work and life of Karl Lagerfeld, so the dress code was, fittingly, “in honor of Karl.”
Lagerfeld is best known for working with Chanel for over 30 years — not to mention his notable sunglasses and ponytail signature look. By the time the German fashion designer passed in 2019, he’d developed a reputation as a creative genius who was very opinionated, sometimes to a fault.
From that lens, it makes sense that the Met would someday honor Lagerfeld’s legacy. But many argue that’s not the only lens which we should view his life from. Many point to Lagerfeld’s decades of interviews and argue that some of his statements make him a controversial choice as the theme.
Lagerfeld’s legacy, massive as it may be, is tainted by a long list of statements that are racist, sexist, antisemitic, and fat-phobic. He called Adele “too fat,” claimed sweatpants were “a sign of defeat,” argued that eating disorders like anorexia were nowhere near as dangerous to one’s health as eating junk food, and said he was “fed up” with the Me Too Movement. In 2009, he told Harper’s Bazaar that Coco Chanel “wasn’t ugly enough to be a feminist.”
In 2010, he put model Claudia Schiffer in blackface and yellowface for a German magazine. In 2017, he criticized then Prime Minister Angela Merkel’s decision to admit Syrian refugees into Germany, going so far as to say, “The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.” It is easy to understand why a lot of people are angry at the choice of theme of this year’s Met.
He often spoke derisively about other people’s appearances. He once called Adele “a little too fat” and Heidi Klum “too heavy,” and said other disparaging things about women’s looks, including that Pippa Middleton “should only show her back” and that Coco Chanel wasn’t “ugly” enough to be a feminist.
Actress Jameela Jamil slams the theme for selective cancel culture.
The She-Hulk actress took to Instagram to call out the many celebrities who attended. Jamil mentioned that many of the celebs in attendance were outspoken feminists, despite Lagerfeld’s bigoted comments against plus-sized women. The fashion designer infamously told the German fashion magazine Focus in 2009, “No one wants to see curvy women.”
“Last night Hollywood and fashion said the quiet part out loud when 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 to sexual assault survivors. And all the women’s publications, and spectators online, chose to gleefully ignore it. Suddenly your appetite to find someone’s tweets from when they were 12, has gone.” Jamil wrote.
“Nobody has perfect morals, least of all me, but Jesus Christ, we had a year to course correct here, and not award the highest honor possible to a known bigot… and everyone decided all of a sudden we can separate the art from the artist when *convenient*. And it’s one rule for us, and another rule for everybody else. Last night we relinquished our right to be taken at all seriously about anything important.” Jameela continued.
She added as a caption saying, “This isn’t about cancel culture. It’s not even about Karl. It’s about showing how selective cancel culture is within liberal politics, in the most blatant way so far. It’s about showing why people don’t trust liberals. Because of slippery tactics and double standards like this. And it’s not just Hollywood here, the general public online participated and were entirely complicit in the erasure of the truth last night. They replaced their pitchforks with spoons last night, to lap that shit right up… If we carry on like this, don’t be shocked when we lose the next election.”
Many users took to TikTok saying British designer Vivienne Westwood should have been honored instead since she recently passed away back in December, and overall a way better person than Karl.
Honoring people that have consistently given nothing to society but their harsh opinionated words, is something that should come to an end. As a society, we should honor those who have contributed their legacy with their kindness and thoughtful acts.