Giant Cats & Metallic Thongs Aside, Met Gala Menswear Felt Kinda Safe

For the first time since 2017, this year’s Met Gala theme was a singular person as opposed to a brand or a notion. Unlike back then, when the event paid homage to Japanese designer Rei Kawakubo, this year’s Karl Lagerfeld theme was met with raised eyebrows.

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 blue-cream tortie Birman cat.

But Lagerfeld also became known for his outspoken views and derogatory comments, mostly against sexual-assault survivors, immigrants, and plus-sized models, but not forgetting controversial slatings of the Holocaust and Syrian refugees.

So when it was announced that the theme for Met Gala 2023 was “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” the reaction was divided, to say the least.

Nevertheless, the show went on, and when it came to the menswear on display (in stark contrast to the womenswear), things felt pretty, well, safe.

With discussions around quiet luxury still bubbling away across the industry, Twitter and the like had been speculating as to whether this trend (in tandem with the theme of choice) would see attendees tone things down this year. And aside from a handful of names like Jared Leto (who dressed as a giant feline in honor of Choupette), Jeremy Pope (who showcased a 30ft Lagerfeld cape), and Lil Nas X (who wore nothing but a metallic thong), they were right.

While looks did feel both safe and traditional, they remained on theme, with references to Lagerfeld clearly felt throughout the attendees, from fingerless gloves and high-collar shirts to A$AP Rocky’s white shirt, black tie, and blazer combo — a Lagerfeld special, albeit not always paired with a skirt, sparkly jeans, and numerous Gucci belts.

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 (shown above) was also in keeping with the low-key theme.

Away from the Gala and into the afterparties, there wasn’t much change. Colorful suits were switched out for more subtle looks again aside from Leto and Lil Nas, the former even utilizing his giant cat head as an accessory.

Bad Bunny switched from Jacquemus to a much more casual number alongside a glamorous-looking Kendall Jenner, while French designer Haider Ackermann was spotted wearing a fairly boring, yet quite satisfying, ensemble as he arrived at an afterparty with Jenner’s younger sister.

On the whole, Met Gala 2023 menswear was a fairly low-key affair. Despite ample nods to Lagerfeld mainly in the form of more subtle details, the looks remained toned down.

Whether this was as a result of the controversial theme itself or, dare we say it, quiet luxury’s influence, remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain: for most attendees, 2023’s Met Gala was an evening that honored the work (and pets) of Lagerfeld, rather than the actual man himself.

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