By Kaitlyn Murphy
The Met Gala was back in town, with the 2023 theme, Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, paying homage to the late iconic fashion designer.
The Met Gala is an annual celebration of fashion that also serves as a fundraising event for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, says Vogue. Presided over and organized by Anna Wintour since 1995, the Met Gala has become a major cultural event loved by those deeply invested in the fashion world and non-fashion enthusiasts. Typically, the event is held on the first May of each year. Surrounded by an air of mystery, The Met Gala keeps its guest list top secret till the evening before, with details of the event remaining undisclosed to the public, with a strict no-phone policy; however, in 2021, Kendall Jenner gave viewers an exclusive look into the Gala through her camera.
Each year, the Costume Institute’s chief curator, Andrew Bolton, decides the theme, Solcyre Burga of Time reports. This year, The Met sought to honor fashion-industry legend Karl Lagerfeld’s extensive legacy and line of work, with the dress code succinctly being stated as: “In honor of Karl.”
Lagerfeld is known for his work with fashion giants such as Balmain, Patou, Chloé, Chanel, and Fendi. The genius of Lagerfeld can be seen in his iconic designs for Fendi and Chanel, with Alexandria Gouveia of Vouge Arabia explaining Lagerfeld’s brilliance with his instantly recognizable work with the Fendi logo, stating, “Lagerfeld designed the original FF logo in just five seconds.” Past themes have paid homage to significant fashion movements and concepts, with last year’s theme being In America: An Anthology of Fashion, honoring the Americana aesthetic.
A combination of sleek, classy design and eccentric campy looks, this year’s Gala provided an array of iconic looks that will remain in the public consciousness until next year. One of the night’s most striking and adored looks came from pop star Dua Lipa, who sported a 1992 Chanel couture tweed ball gown, originally designed by Karl Lagerfeld and worn by Claudia Shiffer, according to Chelsey Sanchez of Harper’s Bazaar. Lipa also served as a co-chair for the 2023 Gala. Another notable look came from Michaela Coel, another co-chair, in a stunning Schiaparelli dress, with Evan Ross Katz of The Cut commenting on her bedazzled dress, “I’m never wowed by ‘celebrity says X number of crystals went into making this garment,’ but 130,000 crystals? The night’s biggest ‘wow’ moment.” Rihanna, Janelle Monáe, Bad Bunny, and Brian Tyree Henry were also cited as some of the best-dressed celebrities by The New York Times in their recap of the Gala.
As for looks that missed the mark, there were a few.
Notably, Lil Nas X drew attention from online audiences for his garish, off-theme look for the night. The rapper drenched himself in silver body paint with a thong, platform boots, and a plethora of pearls and jewels studded on his face and throughout his body. The look took 10 hours to complete, with Emily Sellek of Page Six stating, “The jaw-dropping look was designed by legendary makeup artist Pat McGrath, who placed a whopping 5,000 stones and 218,784 round flatback Swarovski crystals on the star over more than [ten] hours before the big event.” Additionally, Olivia Wilde’s wardrobe accidentally overlapped with Margaret Zhangs, editor-in-chief of Vogue China, with the pair arriving in the same dress in different colors.
But now, let us address the cat in the room: Why did some attendees opt for kitten couture? Jared Leto and Doja Cat notably brought a feline edge to the Met Gala.
Karl Lagerfeld was known for his love of his cat Choupette, who had also been invited to this year’s Gala. However, absurd, and undoubtedly garish, Leto and Doja Cat may have been the most on theme with their honoring of Choupette and Lagerfeld’s dedication to his feline companion.
However, there was a bit of controversy at the Gala this year, with a rouge guest making their way onto the carpet: a cockroach. The roach scrambled around the carpet with reporters and attendees screaming in its presence. The situation was handled, and those in the roach’s presence took the matter (somewhat) lightly, with The Style Desk at The New York Times reporting, “Who are you wearing” jokes were bandied about.”
As we reflect on the looks, mishaps, and successes of this year’s Met Gala, there is much to consider about the world of fashion.
The 2023 Gala has been the most successful in the past five years. Past themes such as Camp: Notes on Fashion and last year’s In America: An Anthology contribute to fashion’s divisive, growing political landscape. This year’s Gala acted as a unifying moment for the fashion world, coming together to celebrate and remember the work and lasting impact of Karl Lagerfeld.