Fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld passed away yesterday after succumbing to pancreatic cancer.
Social media outlets have been full of condolences from those who appreciated Haute couture as well as from celebrities who shared what the Chanel designer meant to them.
Lagerfeld was responsible for putting the Chanel brand back on the map in the ’80s. Since then, it’s become one of the most recognizable fashion houses in the world. But in addition to being a fashion powerhouse, he was a racist, a fatphobe, and a misogynist. What a guy to remember.
His death makes me wonder, can you mourn someone’s passing while also acknowledging their problematic past?
We’re taught to always respect the dead, so much so that people’s faults suddenly disappear. People have the right to grieve. But, we can’t ignore the fact that Lagerfeld was kind of a terrible person.
The Chanel brand has not impacted my life in any way, shape or form. So it’s easy for me to call him out on his problematic behavior, even if it is a little too soon for some people.
And even if I did want to buy high-end fashion, I could never fathom supporting a brand who’s creative director once said that Muslims were the “worst enemies” of the Jewish people. Plus, I fluctuate between a size 8 and 10 so he’d probably think I was too fat to wear his clothes. You know, since he seemed to be disgusted by women larger than a size 0.
In 2009, speaking to a German magazine he said,
“No one wants to see curvy women.”
“You’ve got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television saying that thin models are ugly.”
Fast forward to 2012 when he came under fire for allegedly calling Adele “a little bit fat.” He later professed his love for Adele and claimed that the statement referred to Lana del Ray, not Adele… as if that makes it any better.
“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.”
“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.”
So, he basically brushed off a serious and triggering topic. You have to ask a model if she’s comfortable with posing? I didn’t think it was such a big deal to make sure someone isn’t out of their comfort zone. Not to mention that he thought that since these women kept their trauma a secret for a certain period of time, that somehow makes what happened to them invalid.
“A ruthless, fat-phobic misogynist shouldn’t be posted all over the internet as a saint gone-too-soon.”
She also added something incredibly insightful.
“I’ve had to watch people I love and admire go down publicly. And it’s hard because you have seen a different side to that person. But your love doesn’t outweigh or erase the pain of those hurt by your friend. It’s just how it is.”
You have to wonder if Karl’s attitude towards curvy women stemmed from his own struggles. Back in the 1990s, he weighed about 100 lbs heavier and admittedly lost the weight for sheer vanity reasons. So often those with fatphobic viewpoints suffer from a bit of self-hatred.
But regardless of the origins of his opinions, his public comments were never ok. Not when he was alive, and certainly not now that he’s passed.
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Photo: Chanel / Instagram
Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.