Karl Lagerfeld's Toxic Allure Was The Epitome Of Fashion—Until It Wasn't

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/ Getty

It turns out, you can't actually divorce aesthetics and morality

"I hate ugly people," Karl Lagerfeld told Irina Aleksander in her 2015 New York Times profile of Brad Kroenig, one of Lagerfeld's favorite male models. "Very depressing."

Lagerfeld died yesterday, and this quote is one of the many from the Chanel designer that have been circulating. It's evidence of his ability to shock the world by saying the sort of things that the bitchiest girl you knew in eighth grade was prone to declaring as she applied yet another layer of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers while looking into her own limpid eyes in the cloudy mirror over the sinks in the second floor girls' bathroom.

But in the same way that a 13-year-old girl's facile pronouncements have the ability to influence those around her, Lagerfeld's many cutting remarks—whether off-handed or deliberate or both—on everything from the way "no one wants to see curvy women" to the tackiness of tattoos (having them is like "living in a Pucci dress full-time") were able to transcend their inherent banality and make an impact on the culture. His words had the ability to delight those people who felt an implicit camaraderie in them; endorsing them felt like a tacit acceptance into his elite sphere. But Lagerfeld also dismayed those people who felt his quips were proof that all the cruelest things they think about themselves are also thought by cultural tastemakers, making for a cultural atmosphere that's toxic to all but the impossibly beautiful, the impossibly thin, the impossibly rich; making for a cultural atmosphere that, for all its heady external glamor, is as impossibly boring as middle school itself.

The toxic allure of Lagerfeld is akin to the toxic allure of a middle school queen bee; it is purely aesthetic, and it is pure in its aesthetics, and it is appealing for a while, until it decidedly isn't anymore. Because, the closer you get to it, the more you realize how vapid it is, how clearly it's a case of the emperor's new clothes. This is why Aleksander's Times profile of Kroenig and the cult of Lagerfeld was so brilliant, because in offering up Lagerfeld's absurd lifestyle, filled with fax machines and small talk about Dubai's weather, it exposed completely the conventionality of high fashion, the ways in which snobbery's aesthetics are ultimately pedestrian; it's all a capitalist flex, a perverse joke.

Just because something's a joke, though, it doesn't mean it's funny; it doesn't mean that it can't hurt. And Lagerfeld's willingness to be cruel—about ugly people, about fat people, about Syrian refugees—while never funny to begin with, only revealed the ways in which he was not only no longer a cultural leader, but existed outside of the culture altogether. Lagerfeld and his ilk hid behind a cloak of courtly appeal, they tried to divorce aesthetics from morality, claiming they were only celebrating their idea of beauty, and defending it from any dilution or debasement. They claimed that if you don't like what they have to say, or don't like what their tastes dictate, you can ignore it.

If only it were that easy. The reality is that the casual cruelty of Lagerfeld's worldview affected fashion for decades, and affected the way millions of women see themselves. And, of course, Lagerfeld was not alone in this, he was just a primary avatar of the way the fashion world works. But the fashion world is currently undergoing a reckoning; barely a day goes by without finding out an esteemed fashion house has done something wildly offensive. That's why it's unsurprising that, in the wake of Lagerfeld's death, there are as many paeans to his importance in the fashion community, as there are condemnations for his refusal to accept the fact that the inherent amorality of aesthetics doesn't mean we should ignore when they're deployed in an immoral way.

What has been most interesting about the personal Lagerfeld tributes that rushed in over the last 24 hours is the way in which so many of the warm ones focused on Lagerfeld, the man, not Lagerfeld, the designer. People like Cathy Horyn and Christy Turlington praised his "sanguine nature" and his generosity—his manners, his adherence to a bygone code of etiquette. What is being praised, then, is Lagerfeld's commitment to appearances, his desire to promote beauty (or, his idea of it, anyway) over everything else. This used to be enough, this idolization of aesthetics above all; it used to be the fashionable thing to do. But it isn't anymore. Now, people want something different from fashion and from those who work within it; they don't want to see stolen designs, culturally appropriated and racist looks, on the runway. They want something substantial, something that matters, something that evokes the future, instead of relying on the outmoded past.

Lagerfeld is a symbol of that past; he was one of, if not the, last of his kind. And that past had moments of beauty, but it relied on a current of ugly truths to fuel its existence; just like the fashion industry itself has moments of beauty, but relies on the horrors of sweatshop labor, and massive pollution and waste, to fuel its existence. Change is coming, though, no matter how slowly; and no matter how ugly that process of change might be, one thing is for sure: There is nothing very depressing about it.

Photo by Imani Givertz

Premiering today via NYLON

Small Talks, aka Cayley Spivey, has come a long way since starting a band, then becoming the entire band herself and forging her own fan base from the ground up. On her recent album A Conversation Between Us, she began to unpack any lingering baggage with one particular song: "Teeth." Today, she premieres the accompanying music video exclusively via NYLON.

"'Teeth' is about my personal battle with letting go of the past," Spivey tells NYLON, admitting that it's easily her favorite song off of A Conversation Between Us.

Watch the video for "Teeth" below.

Small Talks - Teeth (Official Music Video) - YouTube

Photos by Joe Maher/Getty Images, Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for TIME

Must have been pretty awkward

Taylor Swift and Sophie Turner were guests on the U.K.'s The Graham Norton Show together, which must have been awkward for Turner's husband, Joe Jonas, seeing as he also happens to be Swift's ex. I wonder if his name came up?

The interview doesn't come out until Friday night, but promotional photos show the two sharing a couch. Swift is making an appearance to perform her new single, "ME!" while Turner is promoting her new film, X- Men: Dark Phoenix. But it seems necessary for the two to be asked about Jonas.

Swift was just on the Ellen DeGeneres Show earlier this month, where she brought up the fact that she felt bad for putting Jonas "on blast" on DeGeneres' show back in 2008 by telling the audience that he broke up with her in a record-setting short phone call. But, according to Swift, she and Jonas are chill now, since it happened pretty long ago, which means she's probably already hung out with Turner and maybe even gossiped about him with her.

We can only hope that they get the chance to spill some tea on television.

Screenshot via YouTube, Photo Courtesy of HBO

"That's! His! Auntie!"

Leslie Jones has rewatched the Game of Thrones finale with a beer in hand, Seth Meyers at her side, and a full camera crew ready to take in all her glorious reactions. Spoilers ahead, but, if you haven't watched last week's episode already, that's kind of on you at this point.

When Jon Snow started to make out with Daenerys, also known as his aunt, only to stab her through the chest moments later, it was emotional whiplash for everyone watching. And, Jones' reactions—both from her first and second viewing—sum it all perfectly.

"That's! His! Auntie! [gagging noises]," Jones says before making an aside about calling the police if her uncle ever tried to do the same. But then the knife goes in, and Jones screams. "Did you see that?!" Jones asks, "Yeah bitch, that's a knife in you." Meyers points out the funniest part of all: "Why are you so upset about someone kissing their aunt but totally fine with someone killing their aunt?" Jones replies, "Because that bitch needed to go," and, well, same.

Other highlights from the comedians' rewatch include comparing Dany's victory speech to a bad improv gig, predicting that their dogs would have less of a reaction to their deaths than Drogon did to his mother's, and more.

Watch all of Jones' reactions from this Late Night clip below.

Game of Jones: Leslie Jones and Seth Watch Game of Thrones' Series Finale

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These lyrics are a lot

Robbie Tripp, aka Curvy Wife Guy, is back with a music video, titled "Chubby Sexy," starring his wife and a trio of models. In it, Tripp raps about his bold choice to find women with an average body size attractive.

The video begins with a series of statements laid over some pool water: "Curves are the new high fashion," "Chubby is the new sexy," "We Out Here." Tripp posits that these queens deserve an anthem, which they do. What they do not deserve is this Cursed Song. As he lists all the names he knows to call them by (thick, thicc, and BBW), one model (who I really, really hope was paid well) squirts some lotion down her cleavage, and Tripp begins dancing.

"My girl chubby sexy/ Call her bonita gordita," Tripp states in his chorus, before going on to compare "big booty meat" to the peach emoji. Another thing he mentions is that his wife can't find a belt that fits her waist, and that's why he calls her James and the Giant Peach. He then tries to dab. Here are some of the other Cursed highlights from his, uh, verses:

Got those Khaleesi curves/ Knows how to dragon slay
She like a dude that's woke/ We like a girl that's weighty
Some say a chubby girl that's risky/ But they ain't met a curvy girl that's frisky
Imma dunk that donk like I'm Andrew Wiggins.
Thick like an Amazon/ Built like Big Ben.

Tripp says one thing in the video that I couldn't agree more with: "She don't need a man." No, she does not. Please run. If you must, watch the entire video, below. Or send it to your nemesis!

Robbie Tripp - Chubby Sexy (Official Music Video)

Photo by Emma McIntyre / Getty Images.

See the promo here

It was bound to happen. The Kadashians and Jenners have committed themselves to letting the cameras roll on their lives, for better or for worse. So if you thought that the Jordyn Woods and Tristan Thompson cheating scandal was off limits, you thought wrong. The trailer for Sunday's episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians was just released, and it involves the famous family working through the fallout of what happened when Woods went to a party at Thompson's house.

The teaser includes the infamous clip of Khloé Kardashian screaming "LIAAAARRRRRR." It's still not explicitly clear who prompted that strong response. She could be responding to Thompson, who clearly isn't always honest. Or she could be reacting to Woods account of the events on Red Table Talk. But the most revealing moment comes when we see Kylie Jenner—who was Woods' best friend before all of this happened—react for the first time.

In a heart-to-heart conversation, momager Kris Jenner says, "For you and Jordyn, it's like a divorce." Kylie only offers this in response: "She fucked up." Based on Woods' version of events—which I'm inclined to believeThompson is the one who fucked up. Still, I'm hoping for some kind of reconciliation between the two longtime friends. Perhaps we'll have to wait until next season for that.

Check out the promo video below.