Okay, it’s time to talk: we need to officially abolish the convoluted role discrimination has in the world of fashion. With an abundance of celebrities reprimanded recently, resulting in formal apologizes, it comes as a surprise that Karl Lagerfeld would still feel compelled to produce Chanel‘s Pre-Fall show with the theme of “Cowboys and Indians.” How are we unaware that this “trend” is distasteful beyond Halloween circa, uhh, the second grade?
The shock factor should be relatively low considering Lagerfeld is known for his audacious personality and is notorious for channeling cultural assumptions into his designs. But, still, I can’t help but wonder, when are we going to distinguish that it’s also offensive and unacceptable? Now would be good.
Because truly, creating styles to resemble the stereotypical portrayal of a specific ethnic group is not cultural–it’s racist. In spite of this, Chanel’s Pre-Fall show, which took place Tuesday night in Dallas in a barn-like venue, featured Navajo prints, American-Indian inspired accessories, turquoise jewelry, and cowboy boots. A theme intended to take us “straight to the Wild Wild West” (Will Smith would approve).
This is one of many native appropriations we’ve seen in recent years. In 2012, Karlie Kloss (A.K.A. the Victoria’s Secret angel who fueled my indulgence of self-deprecation last night) wore a headdress with her lingerie as ‘Thanksgiving.’ Although VS later apologized for this, a headdress doesn’t represent ‘Thanksgiving,’ but is instead a marginalized image that exposes a preconceived, inaccurate depiction of a historical event. It also fails to acknowledge the persecution and violence that subsequently occurred.
Recently, Washington Redskins owner refused to recognize the discrimination associated with his team’s derogatory name and symbol, in spite of voiced disapproval from ethnic groups. We also all remember Julianne Hough and her latest stint with blackface which, again, is inexcusable. To these instances, I must ask: where is everyone’s common sense?
While fashion should absolutely incorporate cultural influences, it should also be done in a way that doesn’t mock stereotypes or deprecate a group of people.