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Met Gala celebrates fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld, who died in 2019

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

Later today, a red carpet rolls down the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in preparation for the Met Gala, an event some call the Super Bowl of fashion.

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

And this year's theme for the charity fundraiser honors the late designer Karl Lagerfeld.

REBECCA JENNINGS: People think of him as creating what we think of wealth - like, and what wealth looks like on American and European women.

FADEL: Rebecca Jennings is a senior correspondent for Vox. She says Lagerfeld is best known for reviving the luxury brand Chanel.

JENNINGS: From the '80s to the '90s, he modernized all the classic elements of what Chanel was - the tweed, the quilted bags, the chains, this very black-and-white stark color scheme - and made it cool to a younger generation.

MARTÍNEZ: But it would be impossible to talk about Chanel's creative director without mentioning his views about the people who buy and sometimes promote high fashion.

JENNINGS: He said some really awful things. He had a particular hatred of fat women and curvy women and basically anyone who was not rail thin.

FADEL: Yeah. Apparently, wealth to Lagerfeld is skinny. He has a history of deriding women as too fat, and he's opposed the fashion industry starting to at least try to be more inclusive, to show women as we actually are - in a range of sizes and shapes.

JENNINGS: He's also been pretty candid about which celebrities he approves of and doesn't approve of. He's described Adele as a little too fat and then said he was referring to Lana Del Rey.

MARTÍNEZ: The German-born designer was also criticized for remarks he made in 2017 about Syrian refugees in Germany.

JENNINGS: He said to a French television show that one cannot, even if there are decades between them, kill millions of Jews so that you can bring millions of their worst enemies in their place.

FADEL: Yikes. And those words - that's why Jennings says she thinks the choice to idolize Lagerfeld at the Met Gala, which she'll be covering, reflects poorly on the industry.

JENNINGS: It is sort of, in its own way, saying that we're still okay with the things that Karl Lagerfeld believed and did and said.

MARTÍNEZ: The Met red-carpet event begins streaming tonight on social media starting at 6:30 p.m. Eastern. And, Leila, when - and this is going to happen - when they finally get around to inviting me, I have a triple-striped, teal-velour tracksuit that is so red-carpet ready. I mean...

FADEL: Oh, I'm so sure you're going to get invited. And they're...

MARTÍNEZ: With a MORNING EDITION cap...

FADEL: ...Going to love that track suit.

MARTÍNEZ: ...And a MORNING EDITION shirt.

FADEL: (Laughter) I don't think so.

MARTÍNEZ: Break the internet.

(SOUNDBITE OF INCLOSE'S "TWINS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.