The Met Gala is infact a fundraiser started in 1948 to raise money for the costume institute and since the reign of Anna Wintour they have been able to rake in $175 million. For the first time in 1973 The Metropolitan Mueseum of Art hosted a themed Gala at the direction of Diana Vreeland who started consulting for the costume institute at the time. It was themed “The World of Balenciaga”, to celebrate Chrisobal Balenciagas body of work through his life.
This was the first time the Gala celebrated the work of one man, Chrisobal Balenciaga who died in 1972 cementing a solid career and name in the fashion fraternity (from 1918 to 1968 ). He worked 70 years of his life with an immense contribution to fashion and so many iconic silhouettes, most notably his manipulation of the waist redefining womens clothing. He was revered by his peers and clients alike serving names like Grace Kelly and apprenticing names like Givenchy himself. Anna Wintour, Coco Chanel and Christian Dior all held his work in high regard.
50 years later in 2023, Anna Wintor decided to honour Karl Lagerfeld. He to boasts a large body of work and even bigger fan following most notably for his work at Chanel. He revived an almost dying brand when he took over as creative director; however his most successful launch was the classic flap bag at chanel which is the one of most sought after luxury bags today.
In some of highs the projects that Karl best delivered :
He created a collection titled “Paris – Bombay” a tribute to India through his Oriental Fanatsy. It was decedant. It was opulent. It was grand. It was gold. It was everything that the “Bombay” era was, majestic, royal and fascinating..
He always worked in the luxury space but he always strived to make it accessible. He was infact the first luxury brand to agree on a collaboration with H&M to create clothes for the masses.
But a lesser known fact is he created a capsule collection in collaboration with the fast fashion label cover story for the Indian market from the cuts to silhouettes it was designed for the Indian women’s body.
Fom being the creative designer for Chanel for for over 35 years, and dedicated almost over 50 years at chanel and ran his own eponymous label it is truly a marvel how he balanced so many roles and continued to impress at every fashion show.
He not only design
ed collections but often styled and shot them too. He was a man of immense talent. He had never actually visited india but the design bug in him allowed him to imagine an entire collection for chanel and want to work on a project focusing for the Indian women.
However, his legacy is also marred wirh some downs, he was notorious for body shaming his models by calling them a “a little too heavy” or a little”too fat”, speaking openly against the Me Too movement and supporting those accused of sexual assaults. In 2017 he also called muslims the worst enemies of jews.
So this begs the question:
Should genius override morals?
Where the met gala 2023 saw an inventive yet predictable monochromatic display of pearls, camellia, gloves, nets & cats to celebrate the fashion icon, Karl Lagerfeld. It also saw the celebration of a controversial figure who was a known bigot.
Some of his infamous sayings :
“You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly,” he said.
“The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.’”
He was once heard saying “im fed up of the ME TOO movement”.
“If you don’t want your pants pulled about, don’t become a model! Join a nunnery, there’ll always be a place for you in the convent. They’re recruiting even!”
Anna Wintour wanted to rewrite his legacy with an opulent starstudded display.
To underline that these few statements over the years did not define him, but infact his work did. In the words of Andrew Bolton “his tangible creative output” was his true legacy.
Heres why that’s problematic. It sets a precedent for future designers to follow, as far as your “creative output”
is worth celebrating all yout problematic/controversial statements will be forgiven.
Given your genius should surpasses your bigotry. Balenciaga fired Kanye for antisemitic remarks so how can we not have the same accountability standard.
He often spoke with an ignorant non-chalance, as if his words carried no weight. He reffered to himself as a joke to disregard what he said and embrance the only thing he understood- design! But one cant choose to be ignorant – because the burden
of influence is responsibility!