(JTA) — Ben Platt, the Broadway star headlining a musical about an antisemitic episode in American history, donned a Star of David necklace as part of his outfit for Monday night’s Met Gala.
The annual gala is a hallmark of the fashion calendar, and celebrities are urged to put together splashy costumes to match a theme. This year’s event was a tribute to Karl Lagerfeld, the designer whose parents were Nazis and who led a fashion house, Chanel, that had its own Nazi past.
Platt’s outfit — a white boucle tweed suit with platform heels, over a corset — riffed on Chanel’s iconic women’s suit designs. As he has in past years’s Met Gala costumes, Platt also incorporated robust jewelry, including a gold chain belt, rings on multiple fingers and, around his neck, a Star of David necklace. (While Platt did not identify a designer in his Instagram post, commenters suggested that the necklace could be the work of David Yurman, a luxury jeweler who credits the Hebrew Free Loan Society for giving him his start.)
Platt’s necklace choice comes as the performer nears the conclusion of a Broadway revival of “Parade,” which tells the story of the 1915 antisemitic lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish man accused of raping and murdering a girl who worked in the Georgia factory he managed. Platt has said the show is warranted at a time of rising antisemitism and white supremacy in the United States.
“This show is all about not only antisemitism, but the failure of the country to protect lots of marginalized groups, and we’re all feeling that really intensely right now,” Platt told the New York Times in October, during an off-Broadway run of the show.
Neo-Nazis rallied outside the show during its first night of previews on Broadway in February. Frank frequently features in the rhetoric of some neo-Nazis who reject the consensus that he was innocent of the crime. They see advocacy on Frank’s behalf as evidence of Jewish control of the media — a longstanding antisemitic trope.
Platt, who is Jewish and attended camp in the Conservative movement’s Ramah network, said the incident showed the relevance of the play. “I just think that now is really the moment for this particular piece,” he said.
Platt’s costar on the “Parade” stage, Micaela Diamond, also attended the Met Gala, wearing a lavender gown and makeup. She drew accolades from some fashion-watchers for wearing her hair in its natural curls — a move that some have argued can be an act of resistance for Jewish women.
The duo’s appearance came amid criticism of the Met Gala for honoring Lagerfeld, who had a reputation for racism and sexism. He also drew condemnation in 2017 for criticizing Germany’s decision to admit Muslim refugees and tying his criticism to Germany’s Holocaust record.
Lagerfeld fought to keep his parents’ history — they joined the Nazi Party in 1933, the year of Adolf Hitler’s ascent to power and of Lagerfeld’s own birth — out of public view. It was not revealed until after his death in 2019. (Typically flamboyant, he also insisted on anonymity after making a small donation to a synagogue near one of his homes in the South of France.)
Lagerfeld was best known as the creative director of Chanel from 1983 until his death, building the designer into a fashion juggernaut that is rarely associated with its own Nazi past. Chanel’s early investors, a Jewish family, were forced from Germany and evidence suggests that Coco Chanel, the company’s French founder and namesake, not only had a relationship with a Nazi officer but may have actively spied for the Nazis.