Karl Lagerfeld
Image: Wikimedia Commons / Siebbi

Met Gala 2023: A night of Karl Lagerfeld

Known as the biggest night out in celebrity fashion, the Met Gala is Vogue’s annual fundraising benefit for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. The 2023 edition paid tribute to regular attendee and fashion world icon, Karl Lagerfeld, taking place four years after his death and coinciding with a new exhibition of his work.​

Fashion commentators were left disappointed with this year’s Met Gala. The consensus agreed the lack of colour, although a typical ‘Karl’ style, left the whole event in need of drama.

Typically lavish outfits and standouts were replaced with monochrome, starched collars, pearls, and delicate bows. It was undoubtedly ‘Karl’, but short on vision. Kim Kardashian traded her iconic, historical Marilyn Monroe dress for a pearl-studded Schiaparelli gown, stating: “I just wanted to feel glamorous… I wanted pearls – what is more Karl?”

If this cockroach isn’t on the cover of the newest issue of Vogue, I will demand Anna Wintour’s resignation

Audiences were amused by the appearance of a special guest on the carpet: a literal cockroach. Standing out in an ultra-organised event, the insect was filmed dashing across the Met steps by reporters and photographers waiting for celebrities to arrive.​ The coverage led to a bombardment of Twitter jokes, like “Where did this cockroach find 50k?” in reference to the price of attendance. One user even quipped: “If this cockroach isn’t on the cover of the newest issue of Vogue, I will demand Anna Wintour’s resignation.”

Rihanna was fashionably late as usual. She showed up after 10pm, as the final guest, and pulled off one of the boldest outfits of the night. Accompanied by partner A$AP Rocky, the pregnant star stole the show with her Valentino-designed white gown and cape. Her outfit also featured oversized sunglasses with large fake eyelashes attached.

Several feline-inspired celebrities made themselves known: you may have seen the awkward Emma Chamberlain x Doja Cat interview plastered all over TikTok, where the singer responded with repeated meows.​ What you may not have noticed, however, was the homage to Lagerfeld’s beloved cat, Choupette. In a silver Oscar de la Renta dress, Doja Cat’s prosthetic facial piece and special effects makeup was dedicated to the cat’s Met Gala debut.

The idea is to be as bold as possible

Although a sea of black and white dominated the night, there were some eye-catching looks.

Jeremy Pope’s 30ft silk chiffon cape featured Lagerfeld’s portrait, while Olivier Rousteing (from the Balmain team) took inspiration from the source rather than his works.

Another standout of the night was Michaela Coel, making a statement in her custom, sheer Schiaparelli dress. The gown was heavily embellished with crystals and stones. It was accompanied by statement jewellery, which embodied the definition of ‘dripping in gold’.

Florence Pugh was also memorable, wearing a towering headpiece, crowned with black feathers. Previously hinting about her look in a New York Times interview, Pugh stated “the idea is to be as bold as possible”. A Valentino gown and brunette buzz cut completed her daring look.

Other celebrities chose classic looks, radiating beauty but lacking a certain ‘wow’ factor.

Actress Margot Robbie, the final Chanel ambassador Lagerfeld chose before his death, revived a look first worn by Cindy Crawford on the runway.

Emily Ratajkowski radiated elegance with a beige tulle Tory Burch gown, inspired by the 1920s flapper dress era.

Influenced by her role in Wednesday, Jenna Ortega’s custom Thom Browne was paired with chunky heels, black stockings, and a corset dress studded with chain-like pearls to create depth.

Mother and daughter model duo Kate and Lila Moss served soft pastels in Fendi dresses. Kate opted for an interpretation of a classic slip dress, while Lila chose a faux fur creation.

He used his platform in such a distinctly hateful way, mostly towards women

Some celebrities protested about the Met Gala honouring Lagerfeld through its theme, given the controversial nature of his comments towards women’s weight and beauty. Jameela Jamil took to social media to argue Lagerfeld “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.”

Other celebrities, such as Viola Davis and Ashley Graham, reportedly threw shade subtly by wearing pink, a colour Lagerfeld disapproved of. As the designer argued “sweatpants are a sign of defeat”, Irina Shayk was pictured wearing them to the Met Gala afterparty, which some commentators saw as a statement.​

The Met Gala would not be The Met Gala without a little bit of drama. The same questions are always thrown around: who was best dressed? Who was snubbed out of an invite? Who followed the theme?

Met Gala 2023, although controversial, offered a relatively linear night, with commentators looking forward to more creativity in 2024.


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