The Meryl Streep/Karl Lagerfeld Red Carpet War

Posted on February 24, 2017

Meryl Streep attends the 86th Annual Academy Awards in March 2014, at the Dolby theater in Hollywood, in Lanvin.


“Turns out, she wants a paycheck. With work on the dress well underway in Chanel’s atelier, word came from Streep’s camp to cease and desist. “I made a sketch, and we started to make the dress,” Lagerfeld told WWD. Days later, a phone call came in from a member of Streep’s camp. “’Don’t continue the dress. We found somebody who will pay us,’” Lagerfeld quoted the messenger.

Chanel, he noted, has a policy of not paying celebrities to wear its clothes, apparently even those of the “greatest living” ilk. That’s not to say there’s no expense involved, both in terms of valuable hours clocked by the artisans of the atelier and the bottom line. “After we gift her a dress that’s 100,000 euros [$105,000], we found later we had to pay [for her to wear it]. We give them dresses, we make the dresses, but we don’t pay,” Lagerfeld said.”

After Uncle Karl managed to slip in a typical-for-him dig at a woman for not being sample-sized (“She could keep the dress because of the size”), he summed his feeling on Miss Meryl up with, “A genius actress, but cheapness also, no?”

Meryl fired back via The Hollywood Reporter:

“A representative for the actress tells The Hollywood Reporter that the statement is absolutely false, and that it is against her personal ethics to be paid to wear a gown on the red carpet.”

We, for our parts, have some thoughts. As you knew we would.

1) We don’t know Meryl Streep, of course, but everything from Lagerfeld’s side of the story sounds highly uncharacteristic of her – and by that we mean her team, who represents her here. In all the decades of her career, diva behavior and high self-regard have not been consistent (or even infrequent) charges made against her.

2) Having said that, it is extremely common for actresses – especially A-list ones going to the Oscars – to get a check for wearing a designer’s gown. We would not put it past even someone like Meryl Streep getting compensation. It’s not corrupt or shameful, although it’s healthy for the public to be reminded of it now and then. Is Meryl one of those A-list celebrity women with a side business of red carpet modeling? We have no way of knowing, but again, given her somewhat lackadaisical and often wary relationship with red carpet fashion, it doesn’t really strike us as her kind of game.

3) While we wouldn’t claim to know – and honestly have no interest in guessing – the politics of Karl Lagerfeld right now, there are two things anyone interested in this story should remember for context. First, Meryl Streep is a figure of some mild-to-heated political controversy right now, ever since she called out the President by name in a fiery, impassioned speech at the Golden Globes. The President fired back on social media and she’s been a wildly disliked figure on portions of the political right ever since then. Second, Karl Lagerfeld is a real-life troll in a lot of ways. He likes to say shocking and politically incorrect things and he can be quite the bitch if he feels he’s been slighted – especially by a woman who dares to exist while being above a size 2. Knowing that she’s disliked by a very vocal portion of the public, it wouldn’t be out of character for him to use this moment to enact revenge on some slight. Maybe she did leave him hanging with a hundred-grand gown. Maybe her team even seeks compensation for her style choices. But the timing and the players in this little drama leave the story fairly suspect, from where we’re sitting.



[Photo Credit: Getty Images]

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