September 16, 2016

MARC JACOBS: Fuel to Culture Appropriation

Should fashion enthusiasts force themselves into a small box of nothing but A-line dresses and jeans with basic converse? Or should we all expand our horizons to much more diverse runway fashion? No and yes.


The use of cultures in fashion is a normal thing; we can’t help ourselves from being inspired by the fascinating way that people of other countries dress or look, but is it wrong? Should fashion enthusiasts force themselves into a small box of nothing but A-line dresses and jeans with basic converse? Or should we all expand our horizons to much more diverse runway fashion? No and yes.

Creativity is important and wanting to express yourself through cornrows and dreads isn’t a bad thing. It rarely is ever a bad thing. However, there are few fashion designers who have been caught under fire in that rare side of expressing yourself when debuting their collections season after season. Let’s take for example Marc Jacobs, the most recent “victim” of the Internet.

The internet has been going off on the former Louis Vuitton designer since Thursday night after his Spring 2017 runway show for the use of dreadlocks, which featured only 7 black models out of the 52 that walked. Now if that’s the end of this story than what was the point of it? There is more. He took to Instagram to defend his colorful collection by stating, “I don’t see color or race- I see people.” Keep in mind that a sentence before that one he said, “funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.” Simple, you don’t criticize them because straight hair isn’t a culture exclusive to one group of people whereas dreads are. You’re not naturally born with dreads, Marc.

This must seem like a whole lot confusing and it is. I’m very confused as well and would love answers to a few questions. How exactly do you not “see color” but will soak in the fact that women of color aren’t criticized for, by the way, wearing their own culture. That’s a bit contradictory, isn’t it? Many, mixed in with the hundred of angry people of color, commented, “it’s just hair.” Which ultimately summarizes the entire “white” point of view. Black men and women are being stereotyped and, at times, even denied jobs for that hair. But according to everyone defending Jacobs, “it’s just hair.”

While reading everything you must keep in mind that this isn’t something necessarily new. Just last year, during Paris Fashion Week, creative directors of Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, send their 89 models, with only 8 or them being black, down the run with clothes that were inspired by African culture. In what world does that make any sense? How will create a collection inspired by a group of people but not actually use those people? It didn’t cause national headlines though; they didn’t make ignorant comments. But it didn’t stop a few people from talking about it.

To put cultural appropriation into perspective, take THIS video for example that shows a very angry mother yelling at a cashier for her disrespectful comments on her children’s clothing, which, by the way, is their cultural African attire. Can you see the perspective of the black community and why they’re angry? Suddenly, after years of being criticized, stereotyped and often times humiliated, it will become a trend in mainstream society. That is the power of fashion designers and they seem to lack sympathy. It’ll always be about commercial gain.

Photography by Umberto Fratin

No comments :

Post a Comment