The camellia flower is as closely identified with the house of Chanel as the double-C logo. Across the brand’s jewelry, textiles, and handbags, Coco Chanel’s favorite flower has been a fixture in the collections since the 1920s, crafted from everything from enamel to rubies. (The founding designer began adorning herself with a silk version of the bloom, which is said to symbolize faithfulness and longevity, in 1913.)
At the 2023 Met Gala, several stars stunned in ensembles that celebrated the camellia flower, paying homage to Chanel in honor of Monday night’s theme: Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty. Cardi B led the trend with a flourish, wearing an intricate black and white gown by Chinese designer Chen Peng (which was, notably, her second look of the night).
“If you see the texture of this skirt, it’s giving Chanel boy bag,” Cardi B said. “You know when you get a Chanel purse it always has the white flower, but this one is black.” The rapper and media personality then gestured toward her silver wig, adding: “Up top, it’s Karl…the house of Chanel and Karl at the same time.”
Singer Olivia Rodrigo also wore a camellia-clad look from Thom Browne, a black and white silk, leather, and tweed dress dubbed ‘Count My Camellias.’ (The silk satin stems were all made and applied by hand.)
Quinta Brunson, Bad Bunny, Kaitlyn Dever, Liu Wen, Lily James, and Blackpink’s Jennie Kim all wore camellia-centric looks as well. Brazilian singer Anitta was seen on the carpet in a black satin, structural gown with camellia details by Marc Jacobs, wearing white leather gloves and Swarovski crystal adorned boots.
“[Karl is] a designer that we all know so well, and I was curious to see how people are going to rock his designs,” Cardi B said.
Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs wore one of his own designs: a custom Sean John look created in collaboration with stylist June Ambrose. The all black outfit, made up of a motorcycle tuxedo decorated with 600 Swarovski crystals and black pearls and a taffeta rainwear puffer cape adorned with over 1,000 custom camellia flowers formed of satin and velvet petals. Combs also wore sunglasses, gloves, and pointed boots — all Lagerfeld signatures.
But the floral influence didn’t stop at the outfits. Model Miranda Kerr’s nails channelled the classic Chanel motif, too. “I wanted to give her a classic manicure by choosing a creamy pink color with a subtle iridescence to mimic the glimmer in her dress,” celebrity nail stylist Kim Truong, who partnered with CND, said in a statement. “[And] to honor the late designer, we incorporated the iconic Chanel Camellia flower on her nails, which is synonymous with the brand.”
The Met Gala, held as the annual fundraiser for New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute, has been organized and presided over by Anna Wintour since 1995. It is timed to coincide with the unveiling of the museum’s annual fashion exhibition and this year’s is focused on Karl Lagerfeld. Titled “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty,” the collection honors the life and legendary career of the late designer who passed away on Feb. 19, 2019, and features more than 150 pieces including sketches.
The dress code simply reads “In honor of Karl,” leaving it mostly up for interpretation for the celebrities attending — and their stylists.
The Met Gala program features Penélope Cruz, Michaela Coel, Roger Federer, Dua Lipa, and Vogue’s Wintour as the night’s co-chairs. See all the best looks from 2023 Met Gala red carpet here.