Here's Why The 2023 Met Gala Is Already Facing Backlash

Warning: discussion of sexual assault.

Earlier this week, the 2023 Met Gala was revealed to be Karl Lagerfeld-themed — an announcement that's already garnered controversy.

Closeup of Karl Lagerfeld
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If you're unfamiliar with Karl's work, he was the creative director of Chanel, Fendi, and his own label. The Met Gala will coincide with the Met's exhibition "Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty" — which will see around 150 pieces paired with Lagerfeld's original sketches.

Anna Wintour with Karl Lagerfeld

“Every one of his designs began as a sketch,” Andrew Bolton, the Costume Institute's curator, explained. “He said, ‘I draw just as I breathe.’"

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However, the designer has been the subject of criticism throughout his career. In particular, his anti-fat language surrounding women's bodies has been called "cruel" — even explicitly saying "no one wants to see round women" when the magazine Brigitte announced that it would use "ordinary, realistic" women over models in 2009.

Karl Lagerfeld

Other comments include calling Adele "a little too fat," Heidi Klum "too heavy," saying Pippa Middleton "should only show her back," and adding that Coco Chanel wasn't a feminist because she "was never ugly enough for that."

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Then there's Lagerfeld's murky history with sexual assault. He sent flowers to accused rapist Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He defended stylist Karl Templer after he was accused of sexual assault and 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" and said he was "fed up" with the Me Too movement.

Karl Lagerfeld
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He had Claudia Schiffer appear in blackface and yellowface in 2008. He called Muslims the "worst enemies" of Jewish people in 2017 while criticizing the acceptance of refugees in France. Indeed, much of this was reexamined following his death in 2019.

Karl Lagerfeld and Claudia Schiffer
Mark Mainz / Getty Images for Chanel

Subsequently, following the Met's announcement, many took to social media to criticize the theme. This included Jameela Jamil, who has been a vocal critic of Lagerfeld for years:

"This man...was indeed, supremely talented, but used his platform in such a distinctly hateful way, mostly toward 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," she continued on Instagram. "There was no explanation for his cruel outbursts."

"Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out who aren't bigoted white men?" she added. "We didn't fight all this shit just to throw it all away because some white guy made some pretty clothes for people's skinny faves...come on now."

Jameela Jamil
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Jameela was far from the only one questioning the theme:

You can read more about Lagerfeld's controversial moments here.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), which routes the caller to their nearest sexual assault service provider. You can also search for your local center here