Lagerfeld Met Gala theme brushes aside designer’s problematic legacy

Samantha Sollitto

The 2023 Met Gala theme was “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” in honor of the late German designer, whose legacy in the fashion industry is marred by his hateful rhetoric toward marginalized groups.

Many of the same Hollywood voices which loudly advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, as well as the #MeToo and body positivity movements took the night off to honor a man who represents the opposite of what they stand for. They remained silent instead of using the carpet as an opportunity to repudiate his behavior.

In the past, Lagerfeld made several derogatory comments about women, stating that he was fed up with the #MeToo movement, which encourages victims of sexual assault to speak out about their experience. He commented that women shouldn’t become models if they “don’t want their pants pulled about” in a 2018 interview.

Nine years earlier, Lagerfeld said “No one wants to see curvy women” in an interview with Focus magazine. He also repeatedly commented on celebrities appearances, referring to women such as Adele and Heidi Klum as “too heavy.”

He said that anorexia, an eating disorder that causes people to unhealthily obsess over their weight, is “not as dangerous as junk food and television” in an interview for Channel 4 News.

Lagerfeld has also made remarks regarding German chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to open Germany’s border to Syrian refugees, telling French talk show “Salut les Terriens!” in 2017 that “One cannot — even if there are decades between them — kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.”

In 2013, Lagerfeld was outspoken about his support of gay marriage but made it clear that he didn’t think same-sex couples should adopt.

His comments throughout his career have fueled the mistreatment faced by people that are already inherently disadvantaged by the Eurocentric standards upheld by the beauty and modeling industry.

The Model Alliance was founded by Sara Ziff in 2012 in hopes of creating a safe space for models and advocating for their rights.

“The choice to honor Lagerfeld embodies the dissonance of an industry that claims to be progressive, that celebrates body positivity and survivors on the one hand and then reveres figures like [Lagerfeld] without even acknowledging their regressive views,” Ziff said.

The Model Alliance held a rally on the Met steps on April 30 to protest the theme and uplift the voices of those who are unheard in the industry. They were joined by advocates such as designer Emma Gage, New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal and L’Oreal Global Ambassador Nidhi Sunil.

“They [celebrities] replaced their pitchforks with spoons last night, to lap that shit right up,” actress and activist Jameela Jamil wrote in an Instagram post.

Some social media users believe that certain attendees conducted a “silent protest” by wearing garments or designers that Lagerfeld publicly expressed dislike toward, such as the color pink or designer Elsa Schiaparelli.

However, these “silent protests” are rendered useless if spectators aren’t aware of this history. Instead, those that tuned into the Met Gala saw celebrities wearing beautiful pink and Schiaparelli gowns in honor of Lagerfeld.

Whether or not celebrities condone his statements is irrelevant when they continue to show up to events like the Met Gala that support someone who perpetuates harmful ideologies.