Choupette-inspired couture celebrates Lagerfeld’s Legacy at Met


Courtesy of Vivian Coraci/Art Director

Harper Rosenberg, Staff Writer

This Monday, Amala Zandile Dlamini (professionally known as rapper and singer Doja Cat) made a striking, avante-garde Met Gala debut, strutting down the carpet dressed as none other than her namesake: a cat. In my excitement for the Gala, before the big day I usually research the theme and its inspiration. Once Doja Cat came on, I saw the internet light up, amused by the unique interpretation of this year’s Gala theme, which honored the late Karl Lagerfeld. I wasn’t surprised. In fact, I was fighting for her to dress like that, because it is perfect for her. I wouldn’t have wanted anyone else to dress like Choupette. It made me a bit squeamish because prosthetics scare me, but she pulled off the look with the style and grace befitting of a hip hop star.

Lagerfeld was known for his white Birman cat Choupette, whom he adopted in 2011. She has become a cultural icon and I know I am never disappointed to see a new photo of her uploaded onto the cat’s prestigious Instagram account. She may be the world’s most coddled cat, being a millionaire, model, and the rumored inheritor of Lagerfeld’s riches. In fact, Choupette was invited to the Met Gala, but being the diva she is, she stayed home instead.

Doja Cat and her creative director Brett Alan Nelson partnered with designer brand Oscar de La Renta, spending six months hand beading the sparkly gown, complete with a hood and cat ears. For a six hour event this seems like a bit much, but I assure you, their work paid off.

Doja Cat herself suggested the idea of using facial prosthetics to solidify the feline look. Nelson contacted professional prosthetic artist Malina Stearns to execute the look in a fashion that would honor Choupette. “[Doja is] no furry, but I had images of Choupette as references,” Stearns said. While I find it funny that Nelson claimed responsibility for the furry inspiration, I understand because the audience opinion of an outfit often reflects upon the design team. Two months prior to the Met Gala, Nelson worked with Doja Cat to create a mold of her face so that she could sculpt the piece with high accuracy. Only a couple years after the infamous live action Cats movie, the public, and I, remain traumatized by eerie visuals of human-like cats. However, Doja Cat pulled off this look in a manner that put me on edge, but also managed to retain Choupette’s glamor and grace.

In addition to Doja Cat, other attendees, such as Lil Nas X and Janelle Monáe, dressed as Choupette. However, the feline interpretation to turn the most heads, and not in a particularly excited way, was undeniably Jared Leto’s human sized fursuit. Complete with whiskers, ears, paws, and bright blue eyes, the suit took a month to create. Working with production studio SCPS, the project remained top-secret, with the suit stored in a locked room in which only a small team of designers could enter. Now that I’ve seen the final product, I get why it remained locked up. However, I think Leto was the perfect candidate for this kind of outfit; while the cat suit is certainly unique, it has the lavish, eye-turning charm that Met Gala outfits strive for. I found this soft-yet-eerie look to be strange, but entertaining nonetheless. It wouldn’t be the Met Gala without a look that puts viewers on edge, and Leto undeniably achieved that.