Opinion: There are too many reasons why Karl Lagerfeld should not be celebrated at the Met Gala
"This year, for the first year, I couldn't be less thrilled."
The Met Gala is less than a week away and as the fashion industry gears up for the annual event, one question still lingers – why that theme?
For those who may not be aware, the theme for this year's Met Gala is Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, celebrating the late designer's life and career. Vogue and the curators behind the Met have been praising every aspect of this but it has not come without controversy.
Karl Lagerfeld was a German fashion designer and the creative director behind Chanel, Fendi and Chloé as well as working with Balmain and his own label Karl Lagerfeld. While his career was extremely impressive - helping to revive brands and introduce new collaborations to the fashion world - Lagerfeld as a person was not as admirable.
The Met Gala is like Christmas to me, I anticipate it every year and count down the days. It's my Super Bowl, my World Cup. However, this year, for the first year, I couldn't be less thrilled.
Karl Lagerfeld spoke out against the LGBTQ+ community, publicly announced his hatred of fat people, and described survivors in the #MeToo movement as "ugly". He is not the person that should be honoured at an event like this.
Of the hundreds of celebrities invited to this year's Met Gala, few have spoken out about this theme. One who has been brave enough, however, is actress and activist Jameela Jamil.
Condemning the theme, Jameela took to Twitter following the announcement and wrote: "Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out there who aren’t bigoted white men? What happened to everyone’s principles and ‘advocacy.’
"You don’t get to stand for justice in these areas, and then attend the celebration of someone who reveled in his own public disdain for marginalized people."
But what did Lagerfeld do that was so offensive?
The fashion industry has come a long way in terms of body types. We are thankfully seeing more and more diversity on the runway and in magazines – but there is still a long road ahead.
When it comes to Lagerfeld's thoughts on models bigger than a size 6, he never held back. He co-authored a diet book after he lost 42kg in a year and consistently defended other designers who thought the same way he did.
Speaking in a 2009 interview with Focus, he spoke out against Brigitte's (a German fashion magazine) decision to use real women in their publication.
He said: "You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothing is about ‘dreams and illusions'."
In the same interview, he said of plus size models: "No one wants to see curvy women.”
As recorded in the book “The World According to Karl,” he once said: "I think that for both women and men, fashion is the healthiest motivation for losing weight.”
The #MeToo comments
Speaking to international fashion magazine Numéro in 2018, Lagerfeld expressed how he was "fed up" when it came to holding those accountable for sexual misconduct.
“What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses. That said I cannot stand Mr. Weinstein. I had a problem with him at amfAR,” he said, when speaking about now-convicted producer Harvey Weinstein.
Again speaking to Numéro, he said: "If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!"
Lagerfeld told The Guardian in 2013 that he had curated a show in Paris for his Chanel Spring Summer collection in support of the French same-sex marriage law, showing two identical wedding dresses on two brides.
This was only three years after his interview in Vice where he spoke against same-sex marriage, particularly when it came to two men.
“In the 60s, they all said we had the right to the difference. And now, suddenly, they want a bourgeois life,” Lagerfeld 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. And I also believe more in the relationship between mother and child than in that between father and child.”
He later said in 2013 that he was "less keen" on gay couples being allowed to adopt despite claiming to support same-sex marriage.
Speaking two years before his death in 2017, Lagerfeld made a dig at the then-German chancellor Angela Merkel for opening the borders to Syrian refugees.
"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," he told French talk show Salut les Terriens!
He came under fire following the interview after one anecdote he recalled, which has been translated into English in two separate ways, neither better than the other.
One translation says: "I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said: ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.’”
The other claims he said: "I know someone in Germany who took in a young Syrian 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.’”
Karl Lagerfeld had something offensive to say about almost every social issue, and he never held back. His contribution to the fashion world is not a strong enough reason for him to be celebrated at the Met Gala like this. Not when we take all of this into account.