Thumbnail graphic by Lianna Amoruso / North by Northwestern

Karl Lagerfeld: quintessential designer, iconic personality and incredible influence on the fashion industry. This year, his accolades and personal relationships were the talk of the 2023 Met Gala. Still, conversations failed to address Lagerfeld’s fatphobic, misogynistic and glaringly discriminatory views on who is allowed to reside in the fashion world.

According to an article by The Guardian earlier this month, Lagerfeld said he was “fed up” with the #MeToo movement because it meant models could decide whether or not they wanted to pose a certain way or wear minimal clothing.

“What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened,” Lagerfeld said, referencing the rise in sexual-assault court cases. He also said a lack of witnesses made allegations hard to believe.

Lagerfeld’s overall disdainful attitude towards those who differed from his ideal person (who seemed to be tall, thin and white), is astounding — especially given the diversity at the Met Gala red carpet this year.

I have seen numerous TikToks that say that Lagerfeld probably would have abhorred the attendees who graced the carpet, many of whom were of different faiths, immigrants and people above a size 2.

“The question becomes, how do you dress for an occasion where you’re supposed to honor a man who would not want you to honor him?” TikToker alysiacolestyling said.

@alysiacolestyling So very curious what the looks will be like for tonighta Met Gala 👀👀👀 #metgala2023 #karllagerfeld ♬ Looking Out for You - Joy Again

Celebrities like Billie Eilish, Sydney Sweeney and even Anna Wintour, editor-in-chief of Vogue, Met Ball host and self-proclaimed close friend of the late Lagerfeld, dodged questions from the press about how he would have felt about the attendees.

@michelleyeohrocks Completely avoiding talking about Mr Karl #billieeilish #sydneysweeney #karllagerfeld ♬ award season - Maya

Some celebrities made subtle digs at the designer through their outfits. Viola Davis, EGOT winner and actress, donned a neon magenta dress with obnoxious feathers (and she looked incredible). During her interview with Vogue’s live stream hosts, Davis explained she chose the dress because “I just love this color.” While an innocent statement at first glance, this neon shade of pink is very similar to the one Lagerfeld notoriously detested and refused to use in his designs. Chanel pink, as other attendees wore, is a much more light, feminine color that is much more delicate than the punch packed by Davis’ attire.

@michelleyeohrocks Replying to @jairo #karllagerfeld #ashleygraham ♬ award season - Maya

Another attendee many were excited to see was Pedro Pascal, who brightened the carpet with a neon red jacket and a suit with black shorts. He uncharacteristically flipped off the camera people during a few photos, and fans figured out why. According to another TikToker, it is well known that Valentino is a brand Lagerfeld did not work for, and that is a competitor to each of the brands he did lead. Pascal, in turn, was dressed by Valentino, and his nail set featured the  Valentino logo on his middle fingers to quietly protest the values Lagerfeld’s brands perpetuate. Furthermore, Lagerfeld is notorious for shaming men for having and showing leg hair; hence, the iconic shorts and slutty knee (as many fans fondly label his iconic pose).

@germaninboston #pedropascal #metgala2023 #richanduseless #hollywood ♬ This Is a Work of Art (Sketchy) - Dubskie

This year, most celebrities opted to emulate Lagerfeld’s iconic black suit and tie look by completely cosplaying him or simply wearing those tones. Three attendees in particular decided not to support him, but instead support his cat, Choupette. While their motives are not confirmed, this choice could be an attempt not to represent Lagerfeld directly and to protest the theme. By dressing as his cat, stars Doja Cat, Jared Leto (for only his initial look) and Lil Nas X broke the mold. In interviews, other celebrities praised Lagerfeld’s influence over the industry and his  place in the fashion world. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X and Doja Cat, stayed totally in character, meowing in all their interviews and refusing to answer any questions about Lagerfeld or his legacy. This bold choice, while it could just be these two notoriously quirky stars’ personalities, is a protest of the theme because they actively resisted addressing it in any capacity, from their clothes to their PR statements.

The 2023 Met Gala was definitely something – and while the theme was quite controversial, stars showed out for the event like every other year. Unfortunately, I believe this first Monday in May exposed the inherent hypocrisy of the art world: How far members of society are willing to go in separating an artist from their art, especially after their passing. What does this say about the integrity of artists? Are artists and celebrities absolved from being good people because they create something entertaining for us? Something beautiful? I don’t think we should become so disconnected from our creations, as they are an extension of who we are; and in that sense, Lagerfeld’s designs are an extension of the ideals he held  which excluded many. Jameela Jamil, actress and TV host, was one of the few that spoke out against the theme in an Instagram story.

@michelleyeohrocks Replying to @Harbinger of Chaos #karllagerfeld #metgala ♬ award season - Maya

Does this mean you’re not allowed to enjoy the Met Gala content we’ve created, and talk about your favorite looks? Of course not. It is important to recognize, though, the complicated history of the man behind this year’s theme when discussing the Met.