2023 Met Gala


The annual Met Gala took place on the first Monday in May as per usual. As a fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Met Gala is an event that celebrities and fashion designers alike look forward to all year around, with the theme element being an opportunity for fashionable expression. This year’s theme, which was also highly controversial, was Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. Prior to the Met Gala, I was unaware of just how influential Lagerfeld had been to the fashion industry. A designer since the 1950s, he has worked with high fashion brands Balmain, Chloé, and most notably, Chanel. However, something I was also unaware of was the controversy surrounding his statements about the #MeToo and body positivity movements, as I think it’s important to keep that in mind when discussing his legacy. However, whether Lagerfeld is someone the fashion industry should hold in such high regard, the dress code this year was stated simply as “In Honor of Karl.” For the sake of this article, I am going to apply the principle of “separating the art from the artist” in order to judge the looks themselves in relation to the theme. 

To give more context to the theme, Karl Lagerfeld began his career in fashion during the 1950s, working for high fashion brands Balmain and Chloé. In 1983, he began working for Chanel as the creative director following Coco Chanel’s death. Chanel, which had been described as a “near dead brand” with their traditional and old fashioned aesthetic, was now reemerging onto the fashion scene as Lagerfeld brought modern styles, such as the miniskirt, to the Chanel line. He was famously known for his admiration of fashion history, bringing the crinolines of the 1860s, corset boning of the 1890s, shoulder pads of the 1940s, pouf skirts of the 1950s, and mini skirts of the 1960s back into style while giving them a modern twist. In addition, he stayed true to the traditional tweed suits that made Chanel famous, while also introducing the famous “double C” logo most commonly associated with Chanel today. Similarly, he often incorporated a camellia motif, which can be seen on many Chanel looks to date. Lagerfeld passed in 2019, and his legacy is honored through references to his designs from other designers such as Balmain and Versace. Below are some examples of his work to give you a better idea of what I’m talking about. (image sources: Vogue.com)














Now, let’s look at the looks at the 2023 Met Gala themselves. Here are five looks I felt executed the theme well, and five that I felt completely misunderstood the assignment.


Five Looks that Understood the Assignment


  Anne Hathaway, wearing Versace

I personally love this look. It’s a play on a deconstructed white tweed Chanel suit held together by gold clips adorned with pearls. This serves not only as a reference to Chanel with 


the tweed and pearl detailing, but to Versace as well, which has incorporated gold pins such as those in previous collections. The camellia references on the bodice as well are a good way to tie in more of Karl Lagerfeld’s work. I saw a lot of parallels to this 1990s Chanel suit below. 



Jenna Ortega, wearing Thom Brown

Once again we’re seeing a play on a deconstructed Chanel tweed suit being put together into a different silhouette. The gold chains throughout are very reminiscent of Lagerfeld, with his famous 1992 gold chain dress. (Abbie Lindblad ‘24 wrote a great article about that dress, which I’ll link here.) The boning on the bodice also plays into Karl’s appreciation for fashion history. The fringe as well plays into the Chanel collections of the 2010s, which incorporated a lot of fray on the edges of the tweed. 




Conan Gray, wearing Balmain

I really appreciated this look, especially since many male attendees usually just show up in simple tuxedos to the Met Gala. Once again we’re seeing a lot of pearls, which not only ties in Lagerfeld’s work with Balmain, but also with the simple yet elegant styles of early Chanel. The fan accessory added a level of elegance along with a callback to styles of the past. Personally, I think Conan outdid his previous Met Gala looks with this one. While this might be a stretch, it reminded me of this 1991 Chanel. 




Ben Platt, wearing Wiederhoeft

This is another example of a male attendee really stepping outside the box. Ben is completely referencing vintage Chanel especially with that gold chain belt, which was a staple of any 1990s Chanel look (more specifically the 1995 Ready-To-Wear collection by Lagerfeld). Is the pose awkward? Yes. But Ben Platt tied in not only 1940s Chanel but also 1990s Chanel inspiration. 





Gigi Hadid, wearing Givenchy

Karl Lagerfeld was a fan of the color black and the draping of fabric to create a flowy effect. While this is not too similar to something Lagerfeld designed, it’s definitely something I can see him putting together. Once again we can see boning on the bodice, referencing the corsetry of the past. While it’s not a Lagerfeld, Hadid’s look reminded me of this 1957 Chanel. 





Five Looks I Felt Missed the Point



Kendall Jenner, wearing Marc Jacobs

People had very mixed feelings on this look. Karl Lagerfeld was known to usually wear black suits with starched white collars and sunglasses to every event he attended. This is very clearly a play on that. However, this feels way more like a Marc Jacobs piece than anything else. I feel like the theme was supposed to be more of a “pay homage to Karl’s work,” rather than a “let’s dress up like him.” 






Lil Nas X, wearing Dior

I don’t entirely know what this is supposed to be. Lil Nas X has always gone above and beyond at the Met, however he is usually always on theme. This time around, I’m not entirely sure what he is supposed to be referencing with his silver platform boots and body paint. In all honesty, this doesn’t feel like a Dior look either. All I can think of was that this was a play on Lagerfeld’s final look before his death in 2019. However, even that is a stretch. 





Bradley Cooper, wearing Michael Kors

This is a common example of a man on the red carpet wearing something with no originality. He is clearly going for the same effect as Kendall Jenner, because the sunglasses are Karl Lagerfeld inspired for sure. This just feels very underwhelming for the Met Gala, and I would have hoped he would step it up from his usual simple red carpet style. 






Kylie Jenner, wearing Gaultier

I’m not gonna lie, I don’t even have a reference photo for what I think this is going for. This really does not feel Karl Lagerfeld inspired at all. Kylie Jenner recently started doing some work with the brand Gaultier, so this seems to be promoting that way more than it is promoting anything Lagerfeld related. Considering this is a custom look, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was an attempt at launching Jenner as a brand ambassador.





Doja Cat, wearing Oscar De La Renta

Much like many of you, when I saw this look I was confused to say the least. My first thought was: “Oh, she dressed up like a cat because she’s Doja Cat!” However, after doing some research, apparently this is supposed to look like Karl’s beloved cat Choupette. I am at a loss here. I suppose she deserves points for creativity? Overall, it felt a little bit random. I would have excused it for the beautiful De La Renta train, if she hadn’t meowed her way through every interview. 





By Chloe Stefani ’24, Fashion Editor