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The problem with celebrating Karl Lagerfeld

From disliking fat people to speaking against gay men who wanted to adopt children, the late designer made many questionable comments during his career

Lagerfeld at the end of his 2013 Metiers d'Art fashion show in Dallas
Lagerfeld at the end of his 2013 Metiers d'Art fashion show in Dallas (AP)

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Karl Lagerfeld is the subject of this year's Met Gala, the biggest fashion event of the year. 

The designer, who died in 2019 at the age of 85, revolutionized the merger of hip-hop culture and high fashion, dressing the who's who of the industry. 

He was also a self-proclaimed “big mouth,” publicly sounding off with fatphobia. He spoke against gay men who want to adopt children, migrants, sexual assault survivors, the #MeToo movement and “ugly” people, without apology, according to an AP report.

Also read: How Virginie Viard showed Karl Lagerfeld's love for fashion

A look at the some of instances when Lagerfeld's comments drew a lot of criticism. 


In 2018, Lagerfeld said in the international fashion magazine Numéro that he was “fed up” with the effort to reveal sexual harassment, assault, misconduct and rape, states the AP report. 

“What shocks me most in all of this are the starlets who have taken 20 years to remember what happened. Not to mention the fact there are no prosecution witnesses. That said I cannot stand Mr. Weinstein. I had a problem with him at amfAR,” he said. He was referring to disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein and a gala held during the Cannes Film Festival in support of the fight against AIDS, says the AP report.


“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!” he told Numéro in the same interview. This was his response when asked about accusations against stylist and former Interview creative director Karl Templer.

“No one wants to see curvy women," he said to German news magazine Focus in 2009, while talking about plus-size models, states the AP report. 

In 2010, however, to Vice, when asked if he loved both the emaciated and voluptuous in fashion, Lagerfeld said: “Yes, totally.”


According to the AP report, Lagerfeld, who co-authored a diet book after losing 92 pounds in over a year, was vocally critical throughout his career of women larger than size 0 or 2. 

When asked in the 2009 Focus interview about German women's magazine Brigitte declaring it would only publish photographs of “real women,” as opposed to professional models, Lagerfeld went on: “You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying that thin models are ugly. The world of beautiful clothing is about ‘dreams and illusions.’”


“I shouldn't say this, but physically he was quite repulsive,” Lagerfeld told Vice of Warhol in 2010.


In the 2010 Vice interview, he spoke against same-sex marriage, particularly as it pertains to two men, states the AP report.

“In the 60s, they all said we had the right to the difference. And now, suddenly, they want a bourgeois life,” Lagerfeld said. “For me it’s difficult to imagine — one of the papas at work and the other at home with the baby. How would that be, for the baby? I don’t know. I see more lesbians married with babies than I see boys married with babies. And I also believe more in the relationship between mother and child than in that between father and child.”

In 2013, while supporting same-sex marriage, Lagerfeld said he was "less keen” on same-sex couples being allowed to adopt, states the AP report.

Also read: 2023 Met Gala will celebrate the late Karl Lagerfeld

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