Controversial Met Gala theme sparks reactions

Students, celebrities question if it’s possible to separate the artist from the art


Condé Nast (through Vogue Taiwan), CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Celebrities attending this year’s Met Gala dressed to the controversial theme, inspired by the late German designer Karl Lagerfeld.

Alice Galvao, Staff Writer

Every year, people eagerly anticipate the first Monday in May to see what their favorite celebrities are wearing as they walk the iconic red steps to the fashion world’s most exclusive event, the Met Gala. Fashion fans usually love gushing over (or picking apart) the stunning looks, but this year was different with many fans and even attendees having negative reactions.  

For 75 years the Met Gala, an annual fundraising gala for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, has hosted the most elite celebrities to showcase their fabulous outfits and give credit to talented designers. A theme is set each year to guide and challenge the attendees and designers in creating their looks. For example, in 2018 the theme was ”Heavenly Bodies” and many celebrities wore religious-inspired outfits. 

This year’s theme, which honored German designer Karl Lagerfeld and had many attendees wearing Chanel, black and white ensembles and some even dressed like cats, was steeped in controversy which led to other gears turning.

Lagerfed, who died in February 2019, was an iconic fashion designer and the creative director of Chanel for 36 years, thus he seemed like the perfect candidate for the Met Gala theme to honor his legacy. However, in addition to being a notable designer, he also has been accused by many of being fatphobic, Islamophobic and Antisemitic.  

Junior Natalie McNeil, who kept up with the the event this year, viewed the Lagerfeld theme as incredibly poor.

“He was so problematic and overall a mean guy,” McNeil said. 

Sophomore Emilly Generoso also believes honoring Lagerfeld was a poor choice. 

“I don’t think that he should have been the theme because these accusations are serious and [the theme] shouldn’t be based on someone that offends people,” Generoso said. 

Others, like senior Yasmin Green, believe it was appropriate for the gala to pay homage to a person who had a massive impact on almost a half century of fashion design. 

“I believe the Met Gala is primarily just about the fashion itself and it revolves around people who had a major impact on fashion,” Green said. “So I think using a person like him who had a great impact on fashion today is not out of the ordinary.”

Similar controversies have occurred in the fashion world in the last year, one of them including infamous rapper and designer Kanye West. In October of 2022 West began making Antisemitic remarks which caused many people including senior Maryam Syed to think twice about who they support. 

“When you wear a brand by a controversial designer you’re essentially representing them and you’re giving them money,” Syed said. 

From the rich and famous to ARHS students, people of all backgrounds have found ways to protest what they see as unethical and disturbing views. According to McNeil, spending money on designs in itself can support problematic figures, no matter what the intentions are.

“[Wearing their designs] supports someone who also supports bad things,” McNeil said.

During the Met Gala, many guests like Viola Davis and Ashley Graham protested by wearing pink, a color Lagerfeld was known for hating. Some invited guests, such even chose not to attend because just their presence could be seen as supportive of his ideology. Following West’s Antisemitic remarks, many students stopped wearing his shoes and clothing.

“I think everyone should protest,”  Green said. “If people have a certain way to protest that works for them, then it works.”