This year’s Met Gala was controversial before it even started.
The theme, announced late last year, is an homage to the late designer Karl Lagerfeld. While singular themes focusing on one specific designer or label is a Met Gala tradition—the first ever gala in 1973 centered on “the world of Balenciaga”—it’s a departure from the more conceptual prompts of recent years (heavenly bodies, Americana, the literal concept of time). The last time the ball centered on a specific designer was in 2017, exalting Rei Kawakubo and her work at Comme de Garçons.
Picking Lagerfeld as the central inspiration for this year’s ball, four years after his death, was certainly a choice. He holds a complicated, two-fold legacy: innovative and groundbreaking designer who redefined Chanel on one hand, and sexist, racist, fatphobic designer of the old guard who staunchly defended and reinforced fashion’s most backwards standards on the other. (In this regard, it’s fitting that he was the one who took on the chief designer mantle after Coco Chanel, a Nazi collaborator and possible informer, passed.)
So even if a number of celebrity guests did end up turning in great looks (as you can see in our best dressed list), we can’t help but say that the most fitting tribute was the literal cockroach that stole the show.
Vulture first posted the intrepid insect as it crossed the red carpet. In the video, we see it attempting to make its way up the last flight of steps into the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Chronicling its journey is one lucky photographer slowly backing away while taking pictures.
Another video, posted by Variety, captures an alternate perspective of the brave bug’s journey. This time from the sidelines, we see the cockroach in its ascent moments before the Vulture video: crawling up another flight of steps and making its full cat walk while the aforementioned photographer initially attempts to block its path. “Get a photo,” someone screams. “KEVIN GET A PHOTO.” It paints a fuller picture of the emotional journey, a tribute to how women persist despite great odds, and how men may try to stop them.
Variety later reported that the cunty cockroach died that night after being stepped on. By whom, we have no idea. We’re not pointing fingers at anyone, but the aforementioned Kevin, also known as esteemed celebrity photographer Kevin Mazur, was seen with his foot next to the roach. Again, we are not pointing fingers. But, you know.
A cockroach tribute to Lagerfeld
A cockroach stealing the show is an extremely fitting tribute.
We called Lagerfeld controversial in the subhead, but that’s putting it lightly. The late designer’s racist, sexist, and fatphobic comments and actions are multiple and storied. He made model Claudia Schiffer put on black and yellow face for a magazine cover. He called Princess Diana stupid. He called Adele fat.
“No one wants to see curvy women,” he told a German magazine, adding, “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.” He also believed that “the hole in social security” is “[due to] all the diseases caught by people who are too fat.”
He downplayed the seriousness of anorexia and eating disorders in fashion, saying that it was “ridiculous” to be concerned about that. “Nobody works with anorexic girls, that’s nothing to do with fashion.” In the same interview, he (of course) also said that the more pressing issue was fatness. “There are less than one percent of anorexic girls, but there [are] more than 30 percent of girls in France—I don’t know about England—that are much, much overweight. And it is much more dangerous and very bad for the health… So I think today with the junk food in front of the TV it’s something dangerous for the health of the girl.” He released a book about his own weight loss method, which, among other things, recommends the reader take appetite suppressants and eat 800 calories a day.
On Germany opening its borders for Syrian refugees, he said that accepting these immigrants was an insult to survivors of the Holocaust. “One cannot—even if there are decades between them—kill millions of Jews so you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.”
He viewed #MeToo as an annoyance, calling the stars speaking up “starlets” and telling models that if they didn’t “want their 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!”
Lagerfeld’s legacy of backwards ideologies is so widespread and far-reaching that even High Fashion Met Gala, the Twitter account run by fans, chose to opt out of Met Gala coverage this year. If even High Fashion Twitter thinks it’s bad, you know it’s bad.
So a cockroach, the lowliest of vermin universally hated by the world, being the biggest star of his ball feels right. It feels appropriate. Did he deserve to have a whole Met Gala night in his honor? No. Did he deserve to have that night be stolen by a single roach? Yes, it’s what he deserves.
Art by Ella Lambio