Met Gala 2023: A Safe Affair for Menswear

Met Gala’s 2023 edition, held in New York City on May 1, was a remarkably safe affair when it came to fashion.

In stark contrast to the womenswear where they explored the evening’s theme rather than dabbled, menswear left a lot to be desired in most cases.

It was the first time since 2017 that the evening’s theme was a singular person as opposed to a brand or a notion.

Unlike when the event paid homage to Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo, this year’s Karl Lagerfeld theme was a controversial choice.

The German designer — who died in 2019 — became as famous for his work at brands like Chanel, Fendi, and Chloé, as he did for his own unmistakable image throughout his sixty-year career: a powdery white ponytail, ruffle neck collar, sunglasses, and Choupette, his iconic pet cat.

However Lagerfeld was also widely criticized late in his career for a slew of derogatory comments against sexual assault survivors, immigrants, plus-sized models, as well as inexplicably comparing Germany’s Syrian refugee policy to the Holocaust on a French TV station in 2017.

So when Lagerfeld was revealed as the official theme for Met Gala 2023, it was a more than questionable decision.

Nevertheless, the show went on, as it always does.

Beforehand fashion’s ongoing discussions around quiet luxury had me wondering whether we’d be in for a more toned-down event, or whether the Lagerfeld theme itself would be enough to deter attendees from experimenting.

Aside from Jared Leto (who dressed as a giant feline in honor of Choupette), Jeremy Pope (who showcased a 30-foot Lagerfeld cape), and Lil Nas X (who wore nothing but a metallic thong), my feelings were correct.

It was all just a bit, well, safe.

Despite in keeping with the theme, looks on the whole lacked the ingenuity we often associate with the Met.

Even the direct references to Lagerfeld’s work were forgettable with fingerless gloves, sunglasses, and high collars a tired sight.

A$AP Rocky, for his sins, channeled the designer’s iconic kilt look from Chanel’s pret-a-porter SS04 collection which was one of the highlights, a look the designer famously wore in a Tokyo fashion show in December of 2004.

As expected, suiting was the main course across menswear; Skepta in Burberry, Pedro Pascal in Valentino, and Bad Bunny in a backless Jacquemus number were particular looks of note, while Pete Davidson’s custom Fendi ‘fit was also in keeping with the low-key and laid-back theme.

Away from the Gala and into the afterparties, there weren’t many wholesale changes.

Colorful suits were switched out for more subtle looks, with exceptions again being both Leto and Lil Nas X, the former even utilizing his giant cat head as an accessory.

Bad Bunny went from backless Jacquemus to a more casual number alongside a glamorous-looking Kendall Jenner..

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