Hot damn heaux, here we go again!
Another day and another high-end fashion brand embroiled in a cultural appropriation controversy.
On Friday, Japanese fashion brand Commes des Garçons–which I thought was French all this time (shrug)—held its Fall 2020 menswear presentation during Men’s Paris Fashion Week with their models wearing what appeared to be oversized lace-front wigs designed to resemble cornrows.
Most of the models appeared to be white.
A couple apparently were among The Blacks.
And as can be expected, folks were wigging out about it on the socials.
Black Canadian fashion designer Tani set it off by simply laughing and asking why, in a tweet that has since generated nearly 4,000 likes and almost 1,000 retweets.
Aside from the commentary referencing Rachel Dolezal (who I remain a fan of), Beyoncé (ala Lemonade) and Shemar Moore (in Tyler Perry’s Diary of a Mad Black Woman from 2005), some users called out what was once Gwen Stefani’s favorite fashion house for appropriating black culture.
In Fashionista’s “Hey, Quick Question” column, writer Whitney Bauck clapped:
“Not only was this in poor taste considering the ongoing conversation about cultural appropriation in fashion, but these wigs also were often not fitted all that well to the models’ heads, taking the look from offensive to offensive and messy-looking, which adds insult to injury with regards to a hairstyle that highlights neatness.”
Despite being name-dropped in lyrics by hip-hop artists such as Frank Ocean, Iggy Azalea, Rick Ross and Playboi Carti (just to name a few), Commes des Garçons was caught up in a race-related controversy in 2018 when it was accused of avoiding working with black models.
Hence, the two black models that showed up on the runway on Friday—looking like damn fools.
But you didn’t hear that from me.
So what the hell do I know?
During Gucci’s messy AF “Indy Turban” controversy just last year, a black fashion industry icon I respect so much (whom shall remain nameless) scolded me for reporting the facts about the uproar, and dismissed it by saying something to the likes of “Oh, it’s just fashion.”
More like trashion, I retorted.
But I digress.
In response to the cornrow catastrophe, hairstylist Julien d’Ys posted on Instagram: “Dear all, My inspiration for the comme des garçons show was Egyptian prince: A Look i found truly beautiful and inspirational. A look that was an hommage. Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone , ever. If I did I deeply apologize.”
(There’s that “if” word again in an apology.)
But to his defense, Cleopatra was white. So…
You gotta love it.
“Colour resistance—fighting back with colour,” was Rei’s single-sentence explanation this season, I-D reported about the “just like boys” fashion brand designer Rei Kawakubo.
Commes des Garcons has not provided any statement about the controversy.
Maybe they’re all off observing the MLK Holiday.
C’est la vie.
Oops, that’s French.