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Karl Lagerfeld’s most controversial moments

Ahead of the 2023 Met Gala in honor of Karl Lagerfeld, here’s a look at some of the fashion designer’s most controversial moments.

Ahead of the 2023 Met Gala in honor of Karl Lagerfeld, here’s a look at some of the fashion designer’s most controversial moments.
Kristy SparowFilmMagic

Karl Lagerfeld is known by many as a renowned fashion designer, especially for his work while head of fashion houses such as Chanel, Fendi, and Chloé.

But upon learning that the upcoming 2023 Met Gala would be held in his honor, with invitees encouraged to wear looks inspired by the designer, some feel less enthusiastic about the ‘Karl Lagerfeld’ theme, citing a number of controversial quotes made by the fashion designer, who passed away at the age of 85 in 2019.

“Why is THIS who we celebrate when there are so many AMAZING designers out there who aren’t bigoted white men?” Jameela Jamil wrote in an Instagram post when the theme was revealed last year, one of the most outspoken critics on the theme.

His comments on his own and celebrities’ body image

Lagerfeld notoriously held both himself and those around him to a high standard of thinness, and frequently made controversial fatphobic comments, calling celebrities “fat” and recounting his own extreme dieting measures.

In his 2005 book, ‘The Karl Lagerfeld Diet’, co-written with Dr. Jean-Claude Houdret, the designer says he lost over 92 pounds in the span of a year because he wanted to “wear clothes designed by [Dior’s] Hedi Slimane.”

He has also called celebrities like Adele “a little too fat” and Heidi Klum “too heavy”.

When asked if he would include “healthier” looking models in Chanel runways, he told Fashion magazine that the subject was “ridiculous” and that the problem isn’t the skinny models promoting unhealthy body image, but that junk food is to blame.

In 2009, he told Focus magazine that “These are fat mummies sitting with their bags of crisps in front of the television, saying that thin models are ugly.”

His racist comments

In 2017, on the French talk show ‘Salut les Terriens!’ he spoke out against his native country, Germany, taking in so many Muslim immigrants.

“You cannot kill millions of Jews and then take in millions of their worst enemies afterwards, even if there are decades [between the two events],” he said, before adding:

“I know someone in Germany who took a young Syrian and after four days said: ‘The greatest thing Germany invented was the Holocaust.’”

He also shot model Claudia Schiffer in blackface and yellowface for a photoshoot he shot for the German magazine Stern Fotografie in 2010.

His misogynistic comments

Despite being known for his work at Chanel, he said of Coco Chanel, that she “wasn’t ugly enough to be a feminist”.

In 2011, he told Interview Magazine that having children was “for women” and not for men. He also kept oddly praising interviewer, Carine Roitfeld, then-editor-in-chief of Vogue Paris, for her “beautiful children”, saying “It would have been difficult to have an ugly daughter.”

He has also criticized the #metoo movement. In 2018, he told Numéro magazine he was “fed up” with the movement.

“I read somewhere that now you must ask a model if she is comfortable with posing. It’s simply too much; from now on, as a designer, you can’t do anything.”


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