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Zendaya! Blake Lively! Lady Gaga! This year, many anticipated attendees never showed. Why?
We are gathered here today to mourn. No, there hasn’t been a death. But fashion has suffered a great loss: all the stars absent from the 2023 Met Gala.
In all its prestigious glory, the annual fundraising ball has a unique ability to cram together as many gussied-up famous people as possible. As it always does, this year’s affair delivered on a lot: endless bridal fashion; many a pregnancy reveal; and a record-breaking number of catsuits. So, it is with much chagrin (and some nosiness) that we must turn our attention to all the celebrities who shockingly weren’t there.
ICYMI, the theme was dedicated to the late designer Karl Lagerfeld, whose artistic work over his decades-long career is the epitome of coveted vintage fashion. Because of this, the event was met with expectations for a sea of archival garments and iconic women who were once Lagerfeld’s muses. The former we got. The latter, we sadly did not.
While legends like Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell did attend, many of Lagerfeld’s longtime inspirations didn’t. Claudia Schiffer, the designer’s favourite model in the ’90s and a repeated Chanel bride, was rumoured to be attending but posted on May 1 that she had declined the invitation. Canadian supermodel Linda Evangelista is synonymous with some of Lagerfeld’s most recognizable Chanel designs. She was referenced by guests (including Lizzo), but never present herself. And one of Lagerfeld’s buzziest Gen Z muses, Lily-Rose Depp, who has donned his work several years running at the Met Gala and whose mother Vanessa Paradis was an O.G. Karl muse, was also conspicuously M.I.A. at Monday’s ball was. Unjust!
On May 1, as A-listers trickled onto the steps of the Met, non-attendees became a social media focus as well. A Photoshopped picture of Zendaya in Rita Ora’s dress made the rounds. An AI-generated image of Selena Gomez quickly went viral. An old paparazzi shot of Lady Gaga dressed as a Chanel bride was mislabelled as a sneak peek of the star en route that evening. (Cruel, all of it!) Throughout the night, trending tweets lamented the loss of Met Gala frequenters like Bella Hadid, Blake Lively, Billy Porter, and Katy Perry.
Some absences were more expected than others. Beyoncé hasn’t been to a Met Gala since 2016 — basically a lifetime ago. As a supporter of Lagerfeld, fans held out hope that 2023 would mark her great return, but to no avail. The same goes for Nicki Minaj, who has reliably repped Lagerfeld’s use of logomania at Fendi. Her presence last year established false hope for Monday’s event, where she was nowhere to be found.
Many of the missing stars are masters of a Met Gala theme. In 2019, Lady Gaga honoured camp with a 16-minute transformational entrance. That same night, Zendaya showed up as a real-life Disney princess, with Law Roach as her fairy godmother. Just last year, Blake Lively gave us gilded glamour by unwrapping her gown’s billowing skirt to reveal an entirely new one underneath. It’s hard not to think about the looks we missed out on account of these stars not being there. Not to be dramatic, but a fashion robbery is afoot!
In the world of Met Gala lore, there’s endless speculation surrounding exactly what it means when a celebrity doesn’t show up. This year, with the contentious legacy of Lagerfeld as context, some theorized that stars like Gomez and Lively opted out as a statement of solidarity for the communities the designer has offended. It’s a nice thought! But when you take into account that both of them have worked with him in the past, it doesn’t exactly hold up. The less glamorous, more believable possibility: scheduling conflicts. And as for why many of Karl’s most iconic muses, specifically, weren’t there? That remains a mystery.
One thing’s for sure, we’ll always have memories. See below for our favourite Met Gala looks by those who skipped this year.