Marc Jacobs, Where do I start with this. If there is one thing that usually gets to me is the segregation of black models, and African designers or lack of diversity, whatever you call it in shows, fashion weeks, and global platforms which should be by now accommodating to all.
It is so frustrating! black models and African designers work hard as much and they deserve such platforms. Now, as a designer you have the choice of what models you want to use to showcase for you and that is alright. We will scream about it, but we wont force you.
However, when it comes to cultural appropriation, when you choose to employ or inspired by a concept based on an African, black, Asian etc culture, and you refuse to give credit let alone use models of that particular culture, then there is a problem. It is unacceptable we are tired of it.
This has been a topic of discussion for so long, its exhausting. Designers (In this case of a different race) employing African culture and refusing to give credit, even worse using 80-100% of white models to showcase the same concept is so lame we are overit.com
So here is the recent case, Marc Jacobs, and I have love for Marc, they have good products from make up and all, decided to feature models donning pastel colored faux dreadlocks during New York fashion week.
So first of all if Marc wanted models in dreadlocks, what was so hard about using black models instead of going through the trouble of having locs made of wool, commercial dye and Kool-Aid? moving along,
Fine, he is at liberty to feature whatever models he feels likes. But even acknowledging, the real inspiration of the locks? really?? So according Marc Jacobs, he credited Boy George, Marilyn Manson, Lana Wachowski, Harajuku girls and rave culture as inspirations for the look.
I will tell you why Marc answered no when he was asked if he was inspired by the black culture/Rastafarian.
Because in America, black women have lost jobs, and sent out of school for having kinky hair, dreadlocks, curly, cornrows, and all these styles considered “messy”. Dreadlocks are in fact associated with smoking and so unprofessional.
Who has forgotten Zendaya and the ignorant remark made?
But because Marc used it, its too “Boho chic” to be associated with people of color. Why people don’t use their status and platforms for good, beats me. This is a style which has had negative feedback, it inspired you, why not use that opportunity and let others know how cool it is by actually condemning the manner in which it is handled? and, associating it with the culture it is known for?
Anyway so social media expressed their annoyance with the Marc, and this is what he responded on his Instagram.
“All who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner — funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair. I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race — I see people.”
So now straight hair is cultural appropriation??
Maybe just maybe, he would have gotten me, with the “I don’t see color or race, I see people” but wait, Marc makes foundations for dark skinned. So Marc’s color blindness applies when it suits him?
I was going to mention Vogue and other magazines shooting in Africa, including Kenya and not using African designers, but I remembered I recently interviewed someone who put it better than I could ever do. Post will be up by today.
This is exhausting! but until a solution is found, we are not going to stop. The fashion industry needs discipline!
Cultural appropriation is a way of using another culture in a way that delights our imagination, while stripping that group of their identity