Esther Watson

The Met Gala was – shock, horror – almost tasteful

Last night was about as close as haute fashion gets to conservative

  • From Spectator Life
Rihanna at the 2023 Met Gala [Getty Images]

The Met Gala, in case you didn’t you know, is held in New York on the first Monday of May every year to raise money for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. The theme of last night’s event was ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’. 

Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who chooses the theme, has come in for much criticism for her decision to honour Lagerfeld, the German fashion designer who died in 2019. Lagerfeld is today known as much for his controversial views as his achievements, which include transforming Chanel from a legacy brand into the most sought-after fashion house in the world. 

Lagerfeld viewed sweatpants as a ‘sign of defeat’. He thought anorexia wasn’t as dangerous as junk food or television. He said he was ‘fed up’ of #MeToo. In a bizarre condemnation of his native Germany’s immigration policies, he stated that the country’s acceptance of refugees from Muslim majority countries was ‘an affront to Holocaust victims’. 

The Met Gala is one of those nights when the super-famous don’t have to pretend to be humble and normal and instead embrace extravagance and opulence

Such controversial opinions would normally send celebrities running for the Hollywood hills. Yet fashion has its own set of incomprehensible rules, especially if Wintour is in charge – so last night the A-listers turned up in droves to celebrate the life of Lagerfeld. 

The Met Gala is one of those nights when the super-famous don’t have to pretend to be humble and normal and instead embrace extravagance and opulence. This turned out to be a fitting tribute for Lagerfeld who, in a curiously German way, valued extravagance and exclusivity above all else.

Of course the controversy over Lagerfeld was part of the schtick. Controversy garners attention and the Met Gala is tailored to people who value attention above all else. But, in a sort of homage to Lagerfeld’s disdain for fat people, for immigrants, for victims of sexual assault, and for women he didn’t perceive as beautiful, this was one of the tamest Met displays in years.

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