Karl Lagerfeld, the subject of this year’s Met Gala, transformed Chanel from dowdy to hip. He revolutionized the fusion of hip-hop culture and high fashion. He dressed and befriended celebrities and transformed once-serious fashion shows into masterful theatrical displays.
He was also a self-proclaimed “loudmouth”, who publicly complained of fatphobia. He spoke out against gay men who want to adopt children, migrants, sexual assault survivors, the #MeToo movement and “ugly” people, without apologizing.
And he left behind the receipts, his own controversial words.
Lagerfeld died in 2019 after dominating the fashion universe until he was 80 years old. On May 1, her legacy will be on display at the starry party fundraiser and its accompanying exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. However, it is likely that her controversial tendencies will not be shown.
“She offended people left and right, making the cut to the side as great an art as the perfectly cut two-faced dress,” New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman wrote shortly after Lagerfeld’s death. .
“He judged,” Friedman wrote, “and he knew he himself would be judged, but he didn’t care. Rather, he hugged him.
Lagerfeld’s choice for fashion’s biggest night is not without its critics, though gala visionary and close friend Anna Wintour is clearly not among them. An emailed request for her comment on this side of Lagerfeld was not returned.
When some 400 celebrities and the elite of fashion, technology, politics, music, social media, film, television and sports take the Met’s Grand Staircase for the gala, Jameela Jamil will not be there.
The actor and activist was a rare public figure who condemned the issue, taking to Instagram to acknowledge his fashion genius but denounced his “clearly hateful” comments, often towards women.
“Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers who aren’t bigoted white men? What happened to everyone’s principles and ‘defense’? You cannot stand up for justice in these areas and then attend the celebration of someone who reveled in their own public disdain for marginalized people,” Jamil wrote.
In 2020, a group of internet friends decided to democratize the A-list, invite-only gala with a Twitter companion that’s open to creators submitting digital fashion online with the annual theme of The Real Thing.
Look no further than this year’s High Fashion Twitter Met Gala.
“As we approach the first Monday in May, the hf twitter met gala team would like to announce that we will not be hosting this year’s met gala as our values do not align with the selection of Karl Lagerfeld as the theme,” the coordinators tweeted. .
Called the “living soul of fashion” by Wintour, Lagerfeld and his gifts were outsized. Such were her words.
THE #METOO MOVEMENT
Speaking to the international fashion magazine Numéro in 2018, Lagerfeld said he was “fed up” with the effort to expose sexual harassment, assault, misconduct and rape.
“What shocks me the most about all this are the actresses who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact that there are no prosecution witnesses. That being said, I can’t stand Mr. Weinstein. I had a problem with him at amfAR,” she said, referring to disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and a gala held during the Cannes Film Festival in support of the fight against AIDS.
“If you don’t want your pants pulled, don’t become a model! Join a convent, there will always be a place for you in the convent. They are recruiting even!” he told Numéro in the same interview, when asked about the allegations against hairstylist and former Interview creative director Karl Templer.
To the German news magazine Focus in 2009, Lagerfeld stated of plus-size models: “Nobody wants to see curvy women.”
In 2010, however, to Vice, when asked if he loved both gaunt and voluptuous fashion, Lagerfeld said, “Yes, totally.”
LAGERFELD’S FAT PHOBIA
The man who co-authored a diet book after losing 92 pounds (42 kilograms) in 13 months has been an outspoken critic of women larger than size 0 or 2 throughout his career. That includes his defense that designers exclusively hire rail-thin runway models.
When asked in the same 2009 Focus interview about German women’s magazine Brigitte’s statement that it would only publish pictures of “real women”, rather than professional models, Lagerfeld continued: “You have fat mothers with their potato bags sitting in front of the television and saying that skinny models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothes is all about ‘dreams and illusions.’”
According to the book “The World According to Karl,” a collection of Lagerfeld’s own words, he once said, “I believe that for both women and men, fashion is the healthiest motivation to lose weight.”
ON ‘UGLY’ AND ANDY WARHOL
“I shouldn’t say this, but physically he was pretty repulsive,” Lagerfeld told Vice of Warhol in 2010.
In the same interview, while discussing his penchant for wearing dark glasses, he described a German journalist who once interviewed him as “a horrible, ugly woman.”
MERKEL AND THE MIGRANTS
In 2017, the Hamburg-born Lagerfeld criticized Merkel, then German chancellor, for opening her country’s borders to migrants during the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe two years earlier.
“One cannot, even if there are decades between them, kill millions of Jews in order to bring in millions of their worst enemies in their place,” he told the French talk show “Salut les Terriens”. on Channel 8.
In some English translations, he offered this anecdote: “I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said, ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.'”
However, others reported the comment this way: “I know someone in Germany who took in a young Syrian man who spoke a little English. After four days, do you know what he said to the (German) lady? ‘Germany’s best invention is the Holocaust.’”
Either way, the words sparked hundreds of complaints to Channel 8.
Lagerfeld sent two brides in identical wedding dresses down the runway for the finale of his spring 2013 Chanel couture show in Paris, telling The Guardian it was a show of support for French marriage law. between people of the same sex.
But in the 2010 Vice interview, he spoke out against same-sex marriage, particularly in regards to two men.
“In the 60s, everyone said that we had the right to be different. And now all of a sudden they want a bourgeois life,” Lagerfeld said. “It’s hard for me to imagine: one parent at work and the other at home with the baby. What would that be like, for the baby? I don’t know. I see more lesbians married with babies than guys married with babies. And I also believe more in the relationship between mother and son than in that of father and son.
In 2013, while supporting same-sex marriage, Lagerfeld said he was “less interested” in same-sex couples being able to adopt.
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