Fatphobia and a "cruel" legacy: Why everyone is talking about the 2023 Met Gala theme.

The Met Gala 2023 theme has just been announced, and it's already causing controversy.

Making the announcement on September 30, the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute confirmed that next year's theme will be 'Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty'.  

The event will pay tribute to the longtime creative director of Chanel following his passing in 2019. He died from pancreatic cancer, aged 85.

The prolific designer spent 30 years at the helm of the iconic fashion house; but the man behind the dark sunglasses and white ponytail had a complicated legacy that some don't think should be celebrated.

British presenter and podcast host Jameela Jamil made an impassioned post on her Instagram damning the decision, writing: "Karl Lagerfeld is the theme for the entire Met Gala next year. This man... was indeed, supremely talented, but used his platform is 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."

"Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out there who aren't bigoted white men?" she continued.

"Sorry, but no. This isn't the 90s. We didn't fight all this sh*t just to throw it all away because some white guy made some pretty clothes for people's skinny faves... come on now."


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Although she's the only celebrity who's spoken out about the decision so far (we assume most still want an invite to the glamorous gala), many on Twitter agree, calling the event out for celebrating the polarising man. 


Need a recap on the late designer's controversial legacy? Here's a look back at his life.

The early days.

Karl Lagerfeld spent his childhood in Hamburg Germany, but the designer never publicly revealed his birthday - it was believed to have been September 10th, 1933.

He's always evaded the topic of his youth, except to compare himself to Shirley Temple and to call himself "unbearable and spoilt."

He grew up in a Germany that had Hitler at the helm, but Lagerfeld claimed he was cut off from knowledge about the Nazis.


He also said he knew he was gay from the age of 13. Something his family accepted with open arms.

His father was a businessman who ran a prosperous evaporated milk company, but it was his mother Elisabeth, a lingerie salesperson, who had a powerful influence.

Lagerfeld described her as "perfect" but those who have heard glimpses of stories call it something else.

"Whenever he has described her parenting to me, it sounds terrifying; banging the piano lid on her son's fingers when he was practising, ordering him to draw instead because it 'made less noise' and ridiculing him at every opportunity - his hands were ugly, his nostrils too wide his hair absurd," described Justine Picardie in Harper's Bazaar.

Lagerfeld developed a reputation for jumping labels.

Lagerfeld's love for fashion came from a Dior fashion show he attended with his mother as a child.

As a teenager in the 50s he left home with the blessing of his parents to study in Paris.

He found a job at the haute couture house of Balmain after winning a prize in a 1954 fashion competition with a design for a coat.

Three years later he moved to the House of Patou. Then after stints as a freelancer for Chloe he was hired by Fendi in 1967.

Early on Lagerfeld, who was born Karl Otto Lagerfeldt dropped the 't' from his last name to make it sound more "commercial."


His career at Chanel began in 1983 a decade after Coco Chanel died.

Of that time, he said; "I had been warned 'do not take Chanel it's awful' and when I arrived she [Coco] had been dead for 10 years and everyone lived in respect of her memory.

"If you want to kill a house, show [her] respect," he told Madame Figaro magazine.

He brought what was thought of as a near-dead brand back to life with a new and popular fashion line of ready-to-wear clothes. He also integrated the famous 'CC' monogram of Coco Chanel as a styled pattern.

In 1984, a year later, Lagerfeld launched his own brand build around what he called "intellectual sexiness." He later sold it to Tommy Hilfiger in 2005.

Up until his death, by which point he'd been in fashion for 60 years having always been a "workaholic", Lagerfeld was artistic director of three separate brands at the same time; Chanel, Fendi and his eponymous line.

His legacy.

Lagerfeld had a keen sense for the spectacle of fashion - his Paris Fashion Week shows for Chanel involved fashion pieces like icebergs and towering cruise ships.

Celebrities like Rihanna, Marion Cotillard and Keira Knightley packed his front rows.

His dresses were - and will continue to be - worn by princesses and A-listers.

Chanel Cruise
Karl's runways were never run of the mill. This was his Chanel Cruise runway in May, 2018.

He was a titan of the industry and is credited by many for changing fashion's place in the universe with his success at Chanel giving other luxury brands a blueprint for how to revamp historic fashion houses that had grown dusty - Gucci, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Burberry.

In the fickle world of fashion, Lagerfeld always stayed relevant - constantly refreshing Chanel's classics in ways to hold shoppers' interest for decades.


As his designs made their way into the world of "knockoffs," Lagerfeld turned his hand to the mainstream.

He collaborated on limited edition Diet Coke bottles, designed a line for H&M in 2004 and even wrote a book called "The Karl Lagerfeld Diet".

After the release of the H&M line, the New Yorker wrote, "Lagerfeld has achieved a level of fame usually reserved for pop stars and movie idols."

A sharp tongue.

Lagerfeld was no stranger to controversy and over the years shocked with his acid-tongue.

Some of his quips were just plain funny:

"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat."

"I'm very much down to earth, just not this earth."

Some were just plain rude.

In 2012, he said of singer Adele; "She is a little too fat, but she has a beautiful face and a divine voice."

After Prince William and Kate Middleton's wedding he said her sister Pippa "had a nice silhouette" but that she "struggles."

"I don't like her face, they should only show her back," he remarked.

When talking about Seal he said; "I am no dermatologist, but I wouldn't want his skin, mine looks better than his. He is covered in craters."

No one was immune to Lagerfeld's tongue, he even said of Princess Diana; "She was pretty and sweet, but she was stupid."


Jameela Jamil highlights some of the worst comments he's made in her Instagram post:

Love but no sex.

One of Lagerfeld’s most interesting quirks was the fact he refused to sleep with anyone he loved, instead he went to high class escorts for sexual pleasure.


“I don’t like sleeping with people I really love. I don’t want to sleep with them because sex cannot last, but affection can last forever. I think this is healthy,” he told Vice magazine.

“For the way the rich live, this is possible. But for the other world, I think they need porn,” he added.

His love life was rarely spoken about, but arguably one of the most heartbreaking periods of Lagerfeld’s life was the death of his partner of two decades, Frenchman Jacques de Bascher, a story he only told in 2017.

Lagerfeld spent De Bascher's final days in 1989 beside his partner's hospital bed as he died of AIDS, aged 38.

He never had a relationship again.

The other love of Lagerfeld's life was his pampered cat Choupette.

He even admitted once, he would have tied the knot with her if he could because she was his soulmate.

As well as an eye for fashion, Lagerfeld had a deep love of culture and a respect for learning - speaking four languages.

His home close to the Boulevard Saint-German in Paris houses a library of 300,000 titles.

Feature image: Getty.

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