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Met Gala 2023: What is this year’s theme and why is it so controversial?

This year’s gala will be in honour of the late Karl Lagerfeld

Amber Raiken
New York
Monday 01 May 2023 20:58 BST
Dua Lipa Set To Co-Host The 2023 Met Gala | Billboard News

With the 2023 Met Gala taking place tonight,Vogue has announced what fashion lovers can expect at the event, from its theme to its dress code.

In September 2022, the magazine first revealed that the theme of the fashion extravaganza will be “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” and “examine the life” of the late designer’s fashion legacy. Backlash quickly followed as many on social media resurfaced many of Lagerfeld’s highly controversial opinions.

In January, Vogue shared even more information about the theme of the gala and its dress code. The publication also revealed who the four co-chairs of the red carpet event, which will take place on Monday 1 May 2023.

Here’s everything that you need to know about the 2023 Met Gala’s co-hosts, location, and controversy.

When and where is the Met Gala?

The annual event is usually held on the first Monday of May at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (best known as The Met) so this year’s gala will take place on 1 May, 2023 at the Met.

Due to the 2020 Met Gala being cancelled due the pandemic, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute hosted its first two part event in the subsequent years. The two pronged event, dedicated to the evolution of American fashion, took place across both 2021 and 2022. Part one, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” took place on 18 September, 2021, while part two, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion”, was on 5 May, 2022.

Who are this year’s co-chairs?

Along with Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, there will be four co-chairs of the event: Dua Lipa, Michaela Coel, Penélope Cruz, and Roger Federer.

All four of these co-chairs posted about the event on social media in January. Federer took to his Instagram Story to reshare the Met’s recent video about the occasion and co-chairs.

“Anna, thanks for always being there for my family,” the tennis player wrote in the caption. “So many great memories. I can’t wait to share another amazing evening together at the Met Gala.”

Dua Lipa also shared the Met’s video in her own Instagram post while Cruz shared the same video on her Instagram, with a caption that reads: “Karl,” along with a pink heart emoji.

Coel went to Twitter to share an article rewritten by Vogue, which announced her position as co-chair.

What is the theme?

The 2023 Met Gala will honour the legacy of Lagerfeld as the theme of its event. In January, Vogue explained that the gala’s dress code was also “in honour of Karl” and offered three different outfit ideas for guests.

The publication said that the “most authentic approach” would be for attendees “to wear an archival look from one of the labels Lagerfeld led”. They can also opt for “modern-day” looks by Chanel or Fendi, two brands where Lagerfeld once held the role as creative director. For the third option, guests are recommended to “find a Choupette,” which was the name of the designer’s Birman cat, and “dress à la Lagerfeld”.

Anna Wintour and Karl Lagerfeld were close friends before his death in 2019 (Getty)

What is the exhibition at the Gala?

The Costume Institute’s accompanying exhibition, titled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” will bring around 150 creations from the iconic German designer together to “explore [his] stylistic language”, per a September 2022Vogue announcement.

The gala will show items from his time as a designer and creative director for the likes of Fendi, Chloe and Chanel, along with pieces from his shorter times at Balmain and Patou. Lagerfeld’s original sketches will be alongside each piece.

The interior of the exhibition was designed by architect Tadao Ando, who once designed a house for Lagerfeld that was never built.

Lagerfeld, who died on 19 February 2019 at the age of 85, was also a regular attendee at the Met Gala. He’s previously loaned pieces from his collections to the Met Museum’s earlier exhibitions.

What is the controversy around this year’s theme?

When it was announced that the 2023 Gala’s theme would be focused on Lagerfeld, a smattering of the late designer’s controversial comments quickly made headlines. For example, Jameela Jamil took to Instagram to refer to the “distinctly hateful” way he spoke, “mostly towards women”.

“This man... was indeed, supremely talented, but used his platform in such a distinctly hateful way, mostly towards women, so repeatedly and up until the last years of his life, showing no remorse, offering no atonement, no apology, no help to groups he attacked... there was no explanation for his cruel outbursts,” Jamil wrote.

While Lagerfeld was known for his questionable comments, some of his most problematic ones were centred on fatphobia. While his peers hired models of varying body types to showcase their designs, Lagerfeld routinely chose to only use models who were thin.

When asked by Channel 4 in 2012 if he had a responsibility to the public to hire women who did not look unhealthy, he said: “There are less than one per cent of anorexic girls. But there are zero in France, I don’t know in England - over 30 per cent of girls [who are] big, big, overweight. And that is much more dangerous and very bad for the health. So I think today, with the junk food in front of TV, it’s something dangerous for the health of the girl. The models are skinny, but they’re not that skinny. All the new girls are not that skinny.”

(Getty Images)

In addition to fat-shaming remarks, Lagerfeld’s controversial beliefs extended to his opinions on LGBTQ rights. In 2010, while speaking to Vice, Lagerfeld suggested that he was against same-sex marriage.

“I’m against [gay marriage] for a very simple reason: In the 60s, they all said we had the right to the difference. And now, suddenly, they want a bourgeois life,” he said. “For me it’s difficult to imagine - one of the papas at work and the other at home with the baby. How would that be for the baby? I don’t know. I see more lesbians married with babies than I see boys married with babies”

Lagerfeld later expressed his support for the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013. Though, he said that he was “less keen” on gay couples being allowed to adopt, per The Guardian.

The designer also faced backlash for his remarks on the MeToo Movement after he revealed in 2018 he was “fed up” with the campaign.

“I’m fed up with it...What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened,” he said during an interview with Numero magazine. “Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses.”

Regardless of his controversial past, many famous faces in the fashion world mourned his death in 2019, including Wintour, who is in charge of the Met Gala. At the  Women in the World Summit that year, she shared her emotional reaction to his passing.

“I was in an airport reading all of the papers, the obituaries, sitting next to a very unfashionable man, in a chequered shirt, you know, and I just started to bawl,” Wintour recalled. “[The man] just started silently handing me kerchiefs. I said, ‘Thank you for being so kind’ and he said ‘Madam, the world has lost a great figure.’ Even he felt the loss.”

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