Karl Lagerfeld called Meryl Streep ‘cheap’ in one of the best fashion feuds ever

2017 BAFTA Awards - Arrivals

Meryl Streep will be attending the Oscars this year as a Best Actress nominee for Florence Foster Jenkins. It is Meryl’s 20th nomination, but judging from this year’s Brutally Honest Oscar Ballots, Meryl is not going to win an Oscar this year. And that’s fine. Many Oscar voters – and many of us out here in the cheap seats – believe that Meryl got the Oscar nomination mostly because of her ballsy and eloquent Golden Globes speech in which she took down Donald Trump without ever mentioning him by name.

Still, Meryl is going to the Oscars and people will care about what she wears. As it turns out, she was probably going to wear Chanel, and Karl Lagerfeld’s people were even customizing a dress for her, but then she said she didn’t want it. Lagerfeld’s version of events is different than Meryl’s.

Thursday, WWD reported that Meryl Streep turned down a custom couture Chanel creation after the fashion house refused to pay her to wear it. Bridget Foley reports that Streep, who is up for a best actress Oscar on Sunday, her 20th nomination, had her eye on an embroidered gray silk number from Lagerfeld’s most recent couture collection, and asked for the neckline to be customized. She writes that the fashion house had begun production on the dress when a call came through in which Streep’s camp reportedly said, according to Lagerfeld, “‘Don’t continue the dress. We found somebody who will pay us.’”

In typical Lagerfeld fashion he lamented, “A genius actress, but cheapness also, no?”

Streep’s team, however, absolutely refutes that claim. 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. Chanel did not immediately return THR’s request for comment.

[From NY Mag and THR]

Who do you believe, Meryl or Karl? Hm… I guess I sort of believe Meryl more than Karl, but I also think there could be a miscommunication between various assistants. Incidentally, the whole “getting paid to wear a certain dress” thing absolutely happens, and it’s one of the reasons I side-eye the #AskHerMore movement. Of course women on the red carpet should be asked questions beyond their “who are you wearing?” and “tell me about the jewelry,” but #AskHerMore is basically playing-dumb about the reality of the red-carpet industry at this point. Many/most of these actresses are being PAID to wear those gowns and that jewelry, and it’s part of their job to actually say the brand names.

Now, does it follow that Meryl will only wear gowns if she’s getting paid? She’s Meryl Friggin’ Streep, so I doubt it. In the past, she’s worn bespoke pieces from Project Runway runner-ups, you know? I think she just likes certain dresses and wants the ability to work with designers to create gowns which will make her feel pretty and comfortable. Isn’t it far more likely that she canceled out the Chanel dress because she had second thoughts about it and maybe she found something she preferred more?

Paris Fashion Week Menswear Fall/Winter 2017/2018

Costume Designer Guild Awards 2017

Photos courtesy of WENN.

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76 Responses to “Karl Lagerfeld called Meryl Streep ‘cheap’ in one of the best fashion feuds ever”

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  1. Daisy says:

    Eh, it’s probably good this happened. Meryl rarely looks great on the RC, and putting her in also rarely great Chanel would be even worse.

    • Mannori says:

      me thinks that we should wait and hear Meryl’s side of the story and then make our own opinion by believing neither of them. I think the truth will lay in the middle ground…in any case Meryl said nothing ago that she hates the “I’ll borrow you a gown in exchange of mentions” thing and more than often wears off the rack stuff

    • LoveIsBlynd says:

      Meryl isn’t an attention seeker, while Karl is- so sorry, I’d put money on karl lagerfeld needing to behave like a catty girl. He’s already insulted with the name “cheaP’, so why think she’s at fault here?

      • Sarah says:

        And she wore Chris March a few times ( and looked great!) and he could hardly pay her!
        I really dislike Lagerfield, and Chanel, the Nazi brand, as well. I can’t believe she became successful.

  2. what's inside says:

    I am not a fan of her fashion choices. The best she ever dressed was in character in The Devil Wears Prada,

  3. Merry says:

    I hate Karl. But even more than that, I hate the deification of Karl. This man has revealed himself to be a shallow, petty and controlling misanthrope time and time again and yet people act like these are endearing traits. They are not and I bet you he instructed one of his assistants to put this story out because he is petty as f*ck.

  4. Jennifer says:

    If it was this monstrosity, which is one of the only ones that fits, I can’t entirely blame her for deciding that she wanted something else.


  5. Jo says:

    Neither of these versions of events are particularly classy, TBH. My assumption was she was either getting the dress for free or being paid. In either scenario, if someone is then customising it for you, it seems rude to back out once the work has begun.

    • Bridget says:

      Rudeness has nothing to do with it. Chanel was hoping to get a huge amount of exposure for the price of 1 gown. Oscars photos are seen globally, and Streep is sure to get play this year. They know how this works: unless the star is contractually obligated to wear a gown, it’s up to their discretion what they want to put on their body. It’s a gamble, and Chanel is a willing participant.

  6. Mannori says:

    stealing this comment because MTE:

    “there is so much dirt going on at the behind the scenes of showbiz and fashion and its intersection is a cove of snakes. From both sides.
    For starters we all know that Karl is a little bitch and he might think that he’s beyond the respect of the non written rules of showbiz and fashion, case in point: you never talk about the deals. He wanted to out Meryl because he felt his huge ego was hurt, but Meryl did nothing other that what EVERY actor does: deals. They live not only of their talent but most and mainly from their image. All actors negotiate. Is nothing new. On the other side you’d expect that the great Meryl would be above all this minutia of deals and would behave like the Queen she is, same would expect from someone like Daniel Day Lewis, for example. Well, she isn’t. She’s just like all the others.”

  7. Juls says:

    Just came here to say that my MIL is Meryl’s doppleganger.

  8. Micki says:

    …”Now, does it follow that Meryl will only wear gowns if she’s getting paid?”….
    Why not? Is she a saint?

    So far I remember only Celine Dion, who apparently buys everything herself and Jamie Lee Curtis, who mentioned once that she wears her own jewellery.

    • SusanneToo says:

      I think Bryce Dallas Howard buys what she wears.

    • Donna says:

      I also remember Oprah at the Oscars. Whatever designer gown she was wearing, she had paid for. She was also wearing some huge, amazing diamond drop earrings, and she had bought those, as well.

      • Bridget says:

        I thought that was specifically because Oprah wanted to keep the items? That’s the thing about the borrowed gowns; even when they’re custom made, they still go back to the designer.

  9. lightpurple says:

    The truth is Meryl wanted to bring Choupette as her plus one and Karl felt jilted.

  10. manda says:

    Karl Lagerfeld makes me laugh because he is hilarious, but he seems like a miserable person

  11. HK9 says:

    Kunty Karl is at it again….god he’s miserable.

  12. Lolo86lf says:

    Why should Ms Streep be paid to wear a free dress that anyone else would have to pay thousands for?

    • Lady D says:

      It would be hard to put a price on the amount of advertising Meryl wearing that dress would generate. Advertising is not cheap, a full page glossy ad in a magazine like Vogue or O would probably start in the $15-20 grand range if not more. I could be wildly off, but I sold advertising in a local tourism based magazine that would reach about 400,000 people. A 1/4 page full color add was over $800 and that was 20 years ago. She would be seen around the world in that dress. Priceless advertising despite them paying her to wear it.

    • MrsBadBob says:

      She’s not being paid to wear clothes, he’s making it up because she decided she didn’t want to wear his stupid dress.

  13. Raina says:

    He has a serious case of bitch face. Not just resting bitch face, but awake bitch face, speaking bitch face, sleeping bitch face, making any expression his plastic surgery will allow him to make bitch face. Meryl has a very kind, confident face. Maybe he is jealous bitch face.

    • derpshooter says:

      Are you going by his face in the pic where he’s wearing that grommeted (sp?) jacket? Cause when I saw that pic I made the SAME face and I do not have any kind of bitch face usually, resting or otherwise. But that is just an ugle piece of clothing.

    • derpshooter says:

      PS – I’m not really trying to argue with you. He is a bitch all around, except in matters pertaining to his cat apparently. I just really wanted to draw attention to that ugly jacket.

    • I Choose Me says:


    • North of Boston says:

      What’s that saying? “everyone after 40 is responsible for his own face”
      Yeah, his face is awful – no compassion, to graciousness, no joy. Just horrible horrible horrible. I don’t care what went on with silly Oscar dresses; his previous comments and behavior tell me he is a horrible person, and his face just reiterates that.

      • Macscore says:

        Yes, I agree – he’s vile. He was once interviewed in a magazine about what his favourite vacation might be; his answer: “Urlaub ist fuer Angestellte” – which roughly translated is sort of the equivalent of, “vacations are for the little people” (employees). Arrogant, demeaning, condescending, straight-up a**hole. And his designs IMHO are very hit-or-miss too.

  14. SusanneToo says:

    I’m more inclined to trust Meryl’s version of the story. Karl seems like a rather disagreeable person.

  15. ell says:

    sorry, but i believe karl more. mostly because he literally has no f-cks to give, and has no brain to mouth filter either.

    completely agree on the hypocrisy of #AskHerMore, it really did my head in. i think it was gwendoline christie who said something along the lines of the fact that regardless of being paid to flaunt dresses, there’s a lot of work that goes into making these gowns, so if she can bring some attention and recognition to a certain designer she’s happy to do so.

    • LadyT says:

      I agree about #Ask Her More. Maybe the red carpet became a little tooooo focused on it but some actresses got downright haughty about stooping to mention the people that were responsible for their look. Proud to wear it but too good to acknowledge it?

      • lucy2 says:

        They absolutely should mention and give credit to the designers. No question. But they should be asked about other things in addition to just their appearance. Hence the MORE aspect to the campaign. The actresses and the media need to find a good balance. Hopefully they get there.

      • LadyT says:

        I agree lucy2. In theory the campaign was always “ask her more” which was a good thing. In practice though it turned into don’t ask at all (with an attitude, by some actresses). Like you said- find a good balance.

      • Sarah says:

        Most actresses are not that knowledgeable, and if i want to get an opinion on anything of substance, I’ll ask someone who actually knows what they are talking about. Their job is to play make believe – why would anyone care what they say about anything else?

    • Mannori says:

      not only the designers but the whole glam squads: makeup artists, stylists, has stylists: usually close friends of the stars. There are tons of people making a living out of the few minutes these spoiled brats have the possibility of fee their beauty and huge egos and happily twirl for the cameras but right after saying: but hey! I’m a serious actor! There’s the right time and place for them to talk about their craft and that’s the interviews, press junkets and promo tours. But if you want to avoid to be asked about the dress and makeup and hair that so many people work hard to make you look good then please be kind and avoid the red carpet. Nobody point a gun to them to walk it. There are other ways to enter an awards venue.

    • Elisa the I. says:

      ITA on he has no f***ks to give.
      A while back I saw a documentary on his life on German TV and IMO he came across as quite smart -and bitchy of course. So I’m a bit surprised about the comments that he has no brain?

      • mar_time says:

        Was it the film with him drawing out important parts of his life?? I loved that, he’s done so much it’s unreal. I don’t think he pretends to be anything but himself, and that quote was very Karl

      • ell says:

        you mean my comment? i also think he’s quite intelligent, i said he has no brain to mouth filter as in he says everything that pops in his mind without filtering it through. you know, we all think things we shouldn’t say but we don’t voice them, while he always does.

      • Elisa the I. says:

        @mar_time: yes, that’s the one. I saw the film by chance – impressive!
        @ell: thanks for clarifying! I’m not an English native speaker, so… :)

  16. Bridget says:

    Why on earth are people complaining that Meryl only got that nomination on the strength of her Globes speech when they’re the ones who nominated her? FFJ was always a lightweight movie that took a nomination from a more deserving actress, and they only realize that after the fact? BS.

    Also, unless Meryl is under contract with Chanel she has a right to change her mind. Karl is just being Karl and complaining.

  17. paolanqar says:

    That is good news.
    Meryl Streep’s red carpet style is terrible, Chanel has been awful for a while now.
    Together they could create anti matter.
    Anyway I believe him, he knows the definition of cheap: He hires Kendall, gigi and Bella.

  18. Bellagio says:

    Karl is someone you’d enjoy having over for a dinner party once in a while, however people like him rarely make good friends or partners. He has said some terrible things in the past about people we admire and while I enjoy a good celeb fight, most of his comments are demeaning, even more so considering that he himself looks like a ghoul. Not that any looks warrant a legit criticism of another person’s appearance, but a bit of self-awareness wouldn’t hurt him. I guess this happens all the time when sheltered people are surrounded with yes-sayers.
    I can’t remember Meryl wearing couture to any of her Oscar outings. If anything, she picks not so famous designers in order to showcase their talent. She wore Lanvin (not couture) when she won, but she has worn dresses from Project Runway contestants in the past, so I hardly doubt that she asked to be paid to wear his gown.
    In my head I have this fantasy of some abused and tortured underling that Karl hired and he wanted revenge, so he kept pretending to be communicating with the Streep camp. Meanwhile, Karl known to say everything that pops in his head, gave us that bitchy soundbite.
    He is also blatantly bodyshaming her, when he says that she can keep the dress because of her size. I don’t think he’d say the same thing to Gwyneth, Nicole or Emma Stone. I guess,he learned nothing since the Adele incident.

  19. Montréalaise says:

    I must be really naïve, but I had no idea that actresses were actually paid to wear these gowns. I was always a bit bothered that these multi-millionaires didn’t have to buy the very expensive clothes they wear on the red carpet but instead they go to wear them for free; now I learn that on top of that, they get paid to wear them? Isn’t that a bit – greedy?

    • Fanny says:

      I don’t think most of them are paid. When there is a really famous actress who has a choice among several gowns, greedy stylists will sometimes start demanding money and perks in order to get the actress to choose that designer’s gown. And I do think a lot of that behavior originates with stylists and is often self-serving on the stylist’s part.

      But most of the top actresses these days have contracts with a fashion house, so there’s no competition to dress them. Jennifer Lawrence and Marion Cotillard are going to wear Dior, Alicia Vikander is going to wear Vuitton. They aren’t being paid extra for that, it’s usually part of their contracts.

    • Bridget says:

      It depends on the actress, the gown, and the event. Fashion shows, store openings, parties? Paid. Women who have contracts with the design houses? Paid. For something like the Oscars, it depends on the stylist (who may be more mercenary) and the actress. Michelle Williams and Alicia Vikander are LV. Natalie Portman is Dior. Other high profile women might not be paid to wear the gown, but get something custom made by the designer or quite literally have racks of free clothing sent to them fpr the event but not to keep. For an event as high profile as the Oscars, these pictures are huge exposure, and an actress wearing a gown represents countless dollars in advertising. But it is also the event where the wearer wants to look their best.

    • MrsBadBob says:

      She is not being paid to wear gowns, he’s a bitch, and he’s full of it.

  20. thecookingpan says:

    Love Meryl, absolutely the greatest actress of this time. But she sure can choose some odd clothes AND jewelry pieces for the red carpet. She loves those big bulky pieces

  21. lunchcoma says:

    I’m inclined to believe Meryl. I’m aware many actresses, probably including her, get free gowns and that some also get paid to wear certain designers. I’m skeptical that Meryl is on the list of women who gets paid to wear particular dresses, though. We don’t typically see women over 60 who don’t wear sample sizes being under contract with LV or Dior the way Alicia Vikander and Jennifer Lawrence are. Meryl is also from the era where the red carpet wasn’t such a thing, and honestly, it shows a lot in her fashion choices.

    My guess is that she ordered and then cancelled a custom gown because she found something else she’d prefer to wear, and that Karl decided to fudge on the details so that he could get some media coverage. (Personally, I think he has all the fs to give. He doesn’t mind backlash or being hated because negative attention is still attention, but he seems to hate being ignored.)

  22. Jeesie says:

    It’s very likely her stylist took money to put a different dress in front of Streep. That’s extremely common but more frowned upon, and if said stylist was speaking to Chanel they likely would have been vague about it, which could lead Chanel to think it was Meryl who took the payment.

    Karl is many things, but he’s never had even the slightest rep for making things up. There’ll be a big grain of truth here somewhere, whether someone in Meryl’s team got paid or she got paid. Possibly she did get paid, but not in an obvious ‘here’s $100,000, wear this’ way. Sometimes it’s use of designers yacht or island, or a few seasons of free clothes, or the ‘gift’ of a piece of art and so on.