Karl Lagerfeld’s Cat, Choupette, Is an Official Muse for A-Listers
The cat, whose name means “sweetie” in French, was the costume inspiration for more than one Met Gala attendee last night.
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People say one reason to have kids is to leave someone behind to carry on your legacy. These days, the definition of “kids” is a little more broad — millennials are choosing pets over actual human children. Karl Lagerfeld, the late German fashion juggernaut and creative director of Chanel since 1983, was decidedly not a millennial, but his cat, Choupette, was his beloved child. She is now cared for, no doubt impeccably, by Lagerfeld’s former housekeeper, Francoise Cacote, in Paris.
Last night, at the annual Met Gala, which celebrates the opening of the Costume Institute Exhibition, the somewhat controversial theme of the night (and the exhibition) was “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty.” And, naturally, when tasked with following this theme, a couple of A-listers honored Lagerfeld by taking on the form of his favorite muse, the little fuzzy white kitty who survives him.
Both Jared Leto and the aptly named Doja Cat arrived at the steps of the Metropolitan Museum of Art dressed in their own interpretations of Choupette. Leto went for a bit of a literal approach by donning a giant cat costume, complete with Choupette’s signature blue eyes. “Look what the cat dragged in... 😸,” he posted on Instagram, alongside a before-and-after video of his costume transformation.
Let’s just say that if you avoid Times Square or Disney World because you don’t like people in giant anthropomorphic costumes, you might not enjoy Leto’s 2023 Met moment. Lizzo’s reaction to getting a big feline hug from Leto is a good indication of the shock factor he brought to the carpet last night. But Choupette, who, despite receiving an official invitation, did not attend this year’s event, likely approved.
Ahead of the gala on Monday, Doja Cat posted a teaser photo of the top of a mannequin on her Instagram. Commenters were confused as to what the musician was cooking up for fashion’s big night, but when she showed up wearing a silver sparkly hooded Oscar de la Renta gown with cat ears, kitty-like facial prosthetics, and sharpened “cat claws,” fans were overwhelmed by the level of feline chic she achieved. Knowing Lagerfeld’s high-fashion taste and influence, there’s no doubt he would have enjoyed this take on his beloved cat’s likeness.
The designer, who died in 2019 at what The New York Times estimated to be age 85 (like many iconic people, there was some debate about what year he was born). In 2011, he became dad to Choupette, who was born in August of that year, after he cat-sat her for her original dad, French model Baptiste Giabiconi.
“When he came back, I told him that the cat was not returning to his house, and I kept it, this kind of genius creature,” Lagerfeld told The Cut in 2018. Ever since then, Choupette became Lagerfeld’s loyal sidekick, and as People mentioned, one of the only personal topics the usually private designer was willing to discuss.
As the Times noted, Choupette, which means “sweetie” in French, led an incredibly bougie lifestyle. She had her own iPad, flew privately, appeared in photo shoots, and regularly dined with her dad. In a 2012 interview with Harper’s Bazaar, Lagerfeld said his cat ate her meals from three Goyard dishes: “one for water, one for her little croquette, and one for her pâté. You have to serve everything, and she makes a choice.” As William Middleton wrote in Paradise Now, his newly released biography of Lagerfeld, the designer doted on Choupette. Middleton reported that Choupette regularly stayed in Lagerfeld’s suite at the Mercer Hotel in NYC and regularly flew with him to St. Tropez, often being allowed to roam the cabin.
“He was so extreme in every single thing he did,” writer Fran Lebowitz told Middleton in the book, per the Times. “So, if he’s going to have a cat, he’s going to have a cat that has a diamond necklace.”
In fact, between the two of them, Lagerfeld considered Choupette to be the one who deserved the notoriety. “You know, personally, I don’t even think I’m that famous. Now, Choupette really is famous,” he told British Vogue in 2012. “She has become the most famous cat in the world.”
On Monday, there was enough intrigue around her Met Gala attendance that “the most famous cat in the world” released a statement on her personal Instagram account:
“A million thanks to all of you my fans, animal lovers & Daddy's admirers. You have all shown the kindest enthusiasm and unconditional support, I say MERCI! Many people invited me to walk the red carpet of the #METGALA2023 in tribute to Daddy, but we preferred to stay peacefully & cozy at home. We pay tribute to my Daddy every day since his parting and we are very moved to see one more day dedicated to him.
With love, forever
But, as we know now, she was in attendance last night...in some form or another.
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Hilary Weaver is the senior editor at The Wildest. She has previously been an editor at The Spruce Pets, ELLE, and The Cut. She was a staff writer at Vanity Fair from 2016 to 2019, and her work has been featured in Esquire, Refinery 29, BuzzFeed, Parade, and more. She lives with her herding pups, Georgie and Charlie.