The annual Met Gala returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York last night, spearheading the work of Karl Lagerfeld who was at the centre of this year’s theme, ‘Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty’.
Attendees of the event, which consisted of the usual celebrity-clad line up, were precedently informed to take an “authentic approach” to the dress code, ideally wearing an archival look or modern day design from one of the labels the late designer led – which include Chanel, Fendi, Jean Patou and Chloé, as well as his own namesake label.
While the decision to adopt Lagerfeld as the core of this year’s event was met with partial criticism from the general public - with those online highlighting the designer’s many controversial comments he made during his career, namely regarding the #MeToo movement and body shapes – celebrities still turned up in droves to show off their wares in honour of his creative work.
Alongside Vogue’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, the event was co-chaired by tennis star Roger Federer, actresses Michaela Coel and Penélope Cruz and Grammy-winning singer Dua Lipa, who notably donned a corseted wool tweed dress from the Chanel AW92 haute couture collection.
Loyal ambassadors and Karl look-alikes
A handful of Chanel ambassadors were fittingly out in full throttle. Kristen Stewart donned a full look from the house’s cruise 2016/17 collection, including a white drill jacket, gabardine pants and a silk chiffon blouse. Blackpink’s Jennie Kim made her Met Gala debut in a vintage 1990 Chanel mini dress. Former ambassador Margot Robbie returned to the label with a black silk gown inspired by Chanel’s SS23 collection.
There were further nods to the French fashion house throughout the evening, of course. Nicole Kidman took to the cream carpet in the pink tulle gown she wore for her Chanel No.5 ad from 2004. The dress already made an impression during its initial 180-seconds of fame, but at the Met Gala it continued to turn heads with its 250 pink ostrich feathers and over 3,000 crystals and sequins.
Another way attendees were asked to honour Lagerfeld was to “find a Choupette” – a reference to the designer’s Birman cat and a direction some took quite literally. Known for her tongue-in-cheek take on fashion, singer Doja Cat rocked up in a figure hugging Oscar de la Renta gown, complete with cat ears, feline-inspired facial prosthetics and talon-like nails. Meanwhile, actor Jared Leto took the theme one step further, completely channelling Choupette in a full head-to-toe cat costume.
Others opted for more subtle references to the furry companion, as seen in cat-shaped accessories donned by the likes of Janelle Monae and Chloe Fineman. It must be noted that Choupette herself did not make an appearance, despite many circulating rumours prior to the event. On the cat’s official Instagram page, “she” posted: “Many people invited me to walk the red carpet of the Met Gala 2023 in tribute to Daddy, but we preferred to stay peacefully and cosy at home. We pay tribute to my Daddy every day since his parting and we are very moved to see one more day dedicated to him.”
Others chose to completely encapsulate Lagerfeld himself, whose signature style often included a tailored black suit with a high-collared shirt and black tie. Cardi B paired the tie and shirt combo with a blossoming skirt of giant roses, a design created by Chenpeng Studio. She later stepped out wearing a pink ensemble, with the two looks combined seemingly referencing Lily-Rose Depp’s gown from Chanel’s haute couture SS17 show. Kendall Jenner, on the other hand, updated Lagerfeld’s staples in a Marc Jacobs bodysuit, replacing the tailored look for sequins and flowing sleeves.
Designers and celebs honour Lagerfeld design codes
Kim Kardashian, who has been known to bend the rules of the Met Gala with her daring approach to past themes, appeared in a pearl-heavy Schiaparelli corset piece, referencing Lagerfeld’s prevalent use of the necklaces in his Chanel collections. While the look was certainly less controversial than her infamous Marilyn Monroe affair last year, it did draw comparisons to a look she donned in a 2007 Playboy photo shoot.
Versace was another to grace the red carpet, dressing multiple celebrities including Anne Hathaway, whose dress combined both Lagerfeld design codes – as seen in the prominent use of tweed – and that of the Italian luxury house, brought to life through cut-out panels that were patched together with oversized fastenings. Meanwhile, Burberry’s Daniel Lee made his Met Gala debut, with many attendees sporting custom looks that mirrored his first collection with the brand. UK rappers Stormzy and Skepta both wore custom jacquard suits in black and “knight blue”, while Liberty Ross donned a rose print silk chiffon gown.
Trains were another popular choice on the Met Gala carpet, as many took the opportunity to use the extra fabric for their own Lagerfeld references. While Lily Collins opted for a graphic black and white Vera Wang look with ‘Karl’ written on the train, Jeremy Pope’s take was somehow even more literal. The American actor brought drama to the steps with a 30-foot-long Balmain cape bearing a giant print of Lagerfeld’s face. He sported the look alongside the design’s creator Olivier Rousteing, who noted in release that the cape was made using 5,000 metres of silk chiffon.
Another to take on the train silhouette was Met Gala favourite Rihanna, who arrived fashionably late in an artsy interpretation of the theme. The custom Valentino Haute Couture design featured a floral-appliqué hood which she soon slipped off to unveil a form-fitting white dress and her baby bump. The singer appeared arm-in-arm with partner Asap Rocky, who represented Gucci in a tartan kilt layered over embellished jeans. His reference to the theme was seemingly in his choice to pair the bottom half with a black suit jacket, tie and Lagerfeld-esque sunglasses.