CMU School of Drama

Monday, September 19, 2016

Marc Jacobs NYFW Controversy: Full Story, Must-See Details A Marc Jacobs fashion show has once again come under fire due to claims of cultural appropriation. Are we sensing a trend yet? In the past, at Jacobs’ Spring 2015 show, the models walked the runway sporting Bantu knots. They were said to be inspired by singer Bjork, completely ignoring the fact that Bantu knots have been a staple in black hair culture for years.


Zak Biggins said...

I too love the aesthetic Jacobs depicted in his new collection...However, I realize that it is wildly inappropriate for his company and line to promote cultural appropriation. 2016 has been a year for a lot of exposure to some real issues that have been brushed away and ignored for a long time... but now artists need to be held accountable for their actions. Some really offensive artwork has turned out to be great work, but, I don't think thats what Jacobs was going for. I think what makes this design so problematic is that it wasn't intentional, the dreads were used to be pleasing to the eye before they were used to describe a culture. I think a simple solution would have been to hire a more diverse demographic of models versus the mostly white cast that the line initially selected. I Jacobs takes this criticism to heart and makes adjustments to redefine what the image of his line is.

Jake Poser said...

I still do not know how I feel about this article. I understand that culturally appropriating hair styles and lifestyles in general is wrong, and Marc Jacobs responses to the harsh critique of his newest line were completely unintelligent. Especially after receiving such harsh critiques ins regards to his previous lines, him and his team should have been more cognizant of what he was sending out onto the runway. ESPECIALLY at such a highly global event like New York Fashion Week.
I cannot lie, I did appreciate the clothing line. It was innovative and colorful. It explored proportion, color, shape, and texture. Really it was cool. But that does not excuse Marc. He made a mistake and should apologize for it. Better yet, he should of just hired a more diverse group of models to walk in his show. Not only would the line, compliment many different people it would make him more marketable. I can guarantee that his whole demographic is not just tall, white, thin women. His clothes are already beautiful and likable. If he included all walks of life in his show it would make the clothes and him even more likable. He has a HUGE brand and should have a team that should act more responsibly when their boss decides to put dreadlocks on a completely white cast of models. Overall, he should embrace the culture he is so generously borrowing from.

Mark Ivachtchenko said...

I understand where Marc Jacobs is coming from. To an extent, although I'm a white male, I tend to be lenient on cultural appropriation if it comes from true ignorance. I try to remain as neutral as I can because sometimes the person(s) just doesn't know any better. But a HUGE fashion company, known by almost everyone who doesn't live under a rock, should know better (without even having to say it). On top of that, it has happened earlier in a Spring 2016 line and you would have thought that Jacob & his team had learned from their mistakes then.

Furthermore, I get that Jacobs was upset at the backlash and went to social media to hold a neutral stance but his remarks brush the issue off and make an apology really hard. He probably genuinely wishes to stay neutral,'doesn't see race,' and wants to just focus on the person but I hope he can see how suspicious it is when you have a whole line of white models in dreadlocks.

Jacob Wesson said...

I don't necessarily believe that this endorses cultural appropriation, and there is a fine line between designing in the real world and taking advantage of the real world. I think that Jacobs could have responded with a bit more tact, overall, but I do worry about the culture of assuming the worst that has emerged in 2016. Whenever things like this happen, the intent is always assumed to be malicious. Now, I'm not saying that perpetuating stereotypes like this is not an incredibly detrimental movement in society today, but I do believe that there needs to be a level of disconnect between designs and the real world that audiences should be cognizant of before they view certain varieties of art. The fact that a similar thing had happened before and the company had clearly not attempted to rectify their mistakes, instead choosing to double down, is a scary thing, and I think Jacobs deserves the scrutiny he is getting. The neutral stance is not always the right one to take, since, by virtue of it being a fashion show with your name on it, you are stamping the looks with your approval. At least coming forward with some level of derision for the designers and a promise to provide a bit more oversight would have helped to alleviated concerns, but alas, here we are, with a brand new controversy.

Brennan Felbinger said...

I think one of the biggest topics missing from the conversation in the deliberation over whether or not this move by Marc was offensive or not is the fact that many POC were not initially offended by the usage of dreads on white women on the runway. While there are many arguments to be made about how that move was in bad taste, more people were offended by the fact that Marc reacted in the way that he did, offering up his influences deriving from mostly European influences, rather than citing his influences as coming from Afro-Caribbean culture. By completely disregarding the fact that POC loc their hair because it is a naturally protective state for it, and that the style of hair has completely been ripped from black people, it shows a sheer lack of education and research into the stylistic choices made by the designer. It also makes him look absolutely foolish to attempt to respond by saying that he "doesn't see color", considering the majority of his runway models were white.

Lauren Miller said...

This is cultural appropriation though. According to the Oxford Dictionary, cultural appropriation is the use of the "creative or artistic forms" of one culture by another. This typically applies to the use of non-white or non-western practices by white or western people. The use of dreadlocks by white people is widely considered to be appropriation. Dreadlocks have a long history in Black Culture that cannot be ignored or refuted. In response to several of the comments preceding mine, lack of intent is not an excuse. Whether or not you mean to harm someone or not, when someone gets hurt it is still your fault. Jacobs should have been better versed in the context surrounding the decisions he made. After all, ever design choice should be well thought out and researched.

These themes also apply to racism. Incidents of institutionalized racism (prejudice which is perpetrated by social institutions, such as government organizations or schools) are well documented, especially in recent years. Individuals in these institutions usually do not directly intend to perpetrate the discriminatory policies, however, it still exists and it still harms people and it still needs to be stopped. People of color have been speaking out about this for years, with the Black Live Matter movement at the forefront. It is our job as white people to recognize our role in creating these institutions as well as our own prejudice and to do everything we can to change our preconceptions as well as inform those around us and be mindful and supportive of the people of color who advocate for this cause. Jacobs is just a small example of what has arisen from a much larger problem.

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