On Cultural Appropriation, Racism and Fashion’s Blind Spots

Let’s get this out of the way: the hair at Marc Jacobs was problematic

09.16.16

This was originally slated to be a straight-up review of the Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer 2017 show. Clothes, accessories, influences. But there’s no way to review the show in any real manner and not talk about the hair. You can’t divorce the two.

Let’s get this out of the way right up front: The hair is problematic.

It was the work of hairstylist Guido Palau, who told Harper’s Bazaar that it was inspired by “certain types of cultures, like rave culture, club culture, acid house, Boy George and Marilyn.” The hair also resembles the look worn by Lana Wachowski, who starred recently in a Marc Jacobs ad campaign. To The Cut, Guido said, “The interesting thing about Marc is how he takes something so street and so raw, and because of the coloration of the hair and the makeup, it becomes a total look. Something that we’ve bypassed on the street and not really looked at, or seen a million times, he makes us look at it again in a much more sophisticated and fashionable way.”

This is the most, just the most problematic part, right? There is the blind spot. The use of the word “street.” The co-option of something that has now been made “fashionable.” Along with “urban,” or “flavor,” what’s “street” code for?

Guido found a woman in Florida on Etsy, and had her create the wool ‘locks. As The Cut explains in a very straightforward manner (presenting the racism in a way where it’s explicit without actually issuing judgement on it is, as we would say in publishing, “letting them hang themselves” with their own words), Guido, a team and Dreadlocks by Jena worked together on the hair vision, which required Jena and her daughters to “[hole] up in an apartment and hand-[dye] over 12,500 yards of yarn” before the show.

Even when asked, pointedly, about the “politics” of the hair, Guido said (again, to The Cut), “I take inspiration from every culture. Style comes from clashing things. It’s always been there — if you’re creative, if you make food, music, and fashion, whatever, you’re inspired by everything. It’s not homogeneous. Different cultures mix all the time. You see it on the street. People don’t dress head-to-toe in just one way.”

As Essence explains, “Here is the problem: there’s a thin line between creativity and cultural appropriation. Celebrating another culture becomes problematic when the origin itself isn’t properly credited.
That line was blatantly crossed when Jacobs’ lead stylist Guido failed to mention one person of color while explaining the inspiration behind the look. Again, not one.”

On a meta level, it’s not only Jacobs who is profiting, but also the media. Veterans know that for readers a.k.a. eyeballs a.k.a. ~clicks~, New York Fashion Week is a total snooze. Maybe a celebrity will do something crazy, the Kardashians are always good for a spike, etc., but the hundreds of other show reviews barely register. The immediate response by online media is not only a sign that people are waking up and realizing that cultural appropriation is a thing that is very clearly not okay — but also that people online will be upset about this, and that is good for traffic.

Oh, the clothes? The accessories? They were amazing. Marc’s handbags, which were The Thing circa 2003, have yet to regain their moment in the sun — but the big suede studded ones we saw yesterday looked pretty promising. The clothes, which had a raver-meets-Rainbow-Brite feel, were extremely fun. That’s in contrast to so many of his past shows, which have felt serious, sad, ominous or otherwise dark. The Blade Runner-slash-nightclub-inspired set was impressive too, featuring more than a thousand light bulbs dangling from the ceiling — but then again Stefan Beckman’s sets for Marc Jacobs are always impressive. His show — and the clothes, the ideas they present, the envelopes they consistently push, are always the highlight of New York Fashion Week.

But back to that hair: It’s a shame. A shame because it perpetuates a cycle of exploitative behavior for which we are responsible too and also because it was unnecessary and now this is the main takeaway. I can only assume that is not what Marc Jacobs had intended, though the truly, truly cynical might say that he saw it coming and knew it would garner him buzz.

Feature photograph by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images; carousel photograph by JP Yim/Getty Images; slideshow photographs via Vogue Runway.

NYFW-SS17

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  • Claire

    Yes, thank you!
    Why not choose models with dreadlocks? I find it very strange to just stick these on the head of the very same white models. You want the hair to be different? Why not get different models?
    That is a shame.

    Alos, I am getting a bit fed-up with these types of controversy, as you said, this is free PR for them. Like the Yeezy scandal, a part of me wants to ignore it because I don’t want to generate more likes, comments and all that around this, but we need to talk about it.

    Fashion should not be about creating scandals for publicity. Not any more. How about making a positive change for publicity?

    • Mallory Harmon

      Claire, I agree that these types of controversy can be too much due to the free PR designers/celebrities receive, but l also agree that these types of conversations much happen in order to, hopefully, initiate some sort of change.

      • Claire

        Absolutely!

  • horusfitzfancy

    “The interesting thing about Marc is how he takes something so street and so raw, and because of the coloration of the hair and the makeup, it becomes a total look. Something that we’ve bypassed on the street and not really looked at, or seen a million times, he makes us look at it again in a much more sophisticated and fashionable way.”

    Yeah…he has to know this is the literal definition of cultural appropriation right? Like he might as well have said:

    “The interesting thing about Marc is how he takes something associated with oppressed groups of people, and because of the coloration the models, it becomes totally palatable to a largely white audience. Something that we’ve bypassed on the street and not really looked at, or seen a million times, (and not really cared about because it is associated with communities of color) he makes us look at it again in a much more sophisticated and fashionable way. Because – and I want to make this clear – the people who actually deserve credit for these looks are neither sophisticated nor fashionable in our eyes.”

    • Leslie Price

      Yes.

    • Skittles

      As a woman of colour, initally I didn’t find the dreads problematic (because I didn’t even realise they were supposed to be dreads, just weird mops of colour but I digress), the most problematic part of the whole thing was the quote; “…something that we’ve bypassed on the street and not really looked at, or seen a million times, he makes us look at it again in a much more sophisticated and fashionable way.” You’ve managed to express my sentiments regarding this PERFECTLY.

      • horusfitzfancy

        Thanks!

      • Alison Friedman

        What I found most interesting about this “creative mess” of hair is that they practically emulate a style that Anthropologie has used to decorate bars of soap. The colored, felted wool which was wrapped around the soap came in pink and blue (coincidentally the same colors that Guido used)…. which I actually bought 2 years ago, for the sole purpose of designing an accessory for a photoshoot.

    • steve7777

      Marc Jacobs has been torturing a talented young designer named Angel Barta for 7 years. He copied her designs and kept her in psycho pressure. Read the truth at styleangelique.blogspot.com

    • kay

      literal definition! yes!

      • fashiken1

        Marc Jacobs has been copying a young designer for 7 years. He copied her
        designs, her photos for many brands. She exposed the truth via her
        blog: styleangelique blogspot

    • fashiken1

      I don’t know if you’ve heard that Marc Jacobs has been copying a young designer for 7 years. He copied her designs, her photos for many brands. She exposed the truth via her blog: styleangelique blogspot

    • Sam

      I came back to this post today as a refresher since Marc Jacobs just tweeted an article about how ridiculous the backlash is. Instead of getting defensive he could take the time to learn that so much of Black culture has been watered down and commodified, repackaged for the average White American consumer, without proper recognition of where it comes from, or an understanding of its cultural significance within that group. When white girls have dreads it’s “boho” and “free spirited” and “hippie chic” or whatever, but when Black girls/boys/women/men have dreads it’s “ghetto” or “unprofessional” or [insert disparaging adjective here]. That double standard is never talked about. So this probably wouldn’t be a huge deal if he would learn that and say, “hey y’all, sorry I screwed up. I get it now,” but instead he doubled down.

      • Ana Vla

        I also saw that tweet and I was like “really, Marc? REALLY?” and then he tweeted a picture of one of her black (very very lightskinned) models with something like “what a beautiful girl”. I can’t.

  • Bria

    Let me preface this comment by saying that I am a black woman. I wasn’t particularly offended by the dreads, but I did find them to be annoying. It was less “Oh my god, I’m so offended by the cultural appropriation” and more “Really? How do you not know this is problematic by now?” (which is ironic since fashion prides itself on being such a “progressive” industry).

    I was more offended by his response. “We don’t criticize WOC for wearing straight hair.” Really? I am constantly baffled (although I shouldn’t be) at just how culturally tone deaf the majority of power players in the fashion industry are. The reason why BLACK WOMEN (not WOC) wear their hair straight is because our hair is deemed unacceptable/unprofessional in its natural state. Not to mention there are many black women who are born with naturally straight hair!

    Also, I gotta say, MR has done a fantastic job within the last year at responding to the concerns of its audience who are WOC and I really appreciate that you continue to have these kinds of conversations on your site. It’s one of the only fashion sites I visit daily, because I don’t feel excluded.

    • Leslie Price

      Thank you! The blind spot is so disappointing.

      • Liza86

        Lol except when it comes to having a woman of color actually write anything on here 🙂

        • Bisqus

          OOH BURN!!!

    • MARIA

      It was less “Oh my god, I’m so offended by the cultural appropriation” and more “Really? How do you not know this is problematic by now?”
      SAME FEELING!

      • fashiken1

        Marc Jacobs has been copying a young designer for 7 years. He copied her
        designs, her photos for many brands. She exposed the truth via her
        blog: styleangelique.blogspot.com

    • ESW

      And frankly, WOC do get criticized for not wearing their hair natural. There was just a piece in Cosmo (of all places) on this…

  • With great platform comes great responsibility. While it is our collective duty to remain informed of our actions in a larger context and thusly their implications, this responsibility is only heightened with visibility. There’s only so much public blundering we can accept or ignore.

    It also perplexes me to think that Marc Jacobs couldn’t have known what he was doing here. Sure, cotton-candy dreads have become so far appropriated and co-opted by rave culture/Burning Man attendees/others, that he may have thought he was dealing with some other entity entirely. But what does it matter? He’s a major fashion designer and so he should know a couple things:

    a) that styles are the results of complex and often comprised of components that have been unduly borrowed.

    b) that cultural appropriation has been a huge topic in the industry — sparking countless reviews and boycotts of collections, etc — and so wouldn’t that be sufficient for pause?

    But then again, I think what I am starting to realize here is that he may not have even really cared. Marc Jacobs is an icon, his existence eclipsing that of the human experience. And the same can be said for many other celebrities — and many celebrities continue to appropriate and be culturally-insensitive in hugely visible arenas. The articles berating this come out and the cycle continues.

    To me, this same impulse, this eclipsing of the human experience, this existence in a detached, privileged, celebrity realm, is what also allows/drives/whatever individuals like Donald Trump to be an unabashed bigot. So we plebeians sit and think: How could they not know or care about the residual, disrespectful words or actions they’ve pushed onto the public forum? And the answer may just be that they, more or less, just don’t live in our world.

    • Harling Ross

      I agree, Emma. I was thinking to myself that ego probably had a lot to do with it. The fact that no one high enough up on Marc Jacobs’ creative team either a) felt comfortable enough to flag this issue or b) DID flag the issue but was ignored means that Jacobs has surrounded himself with people who are “yessing” him every step of the way (which is dangerous as a designer, right? you don’t have an honest sounding board…), or his ego is big enough to eclipse any dissent. Being a creative genius is probably very isolating–I’m sure it puts you at risk of artistic tunnel vision, focusing on perfecting every aspect of your next collection. But that’s no excuse to be so deeply unaware of the world around you.

  • Molly D

    If we keep looking at celebrities and icons as bastions of a moral high ground we will only keep being disappointed.

    • Leandra Medine

      Which is on us!

    • This. You summed it up, Molly.

      • Molly D

        I agree with your point too. We want them to care so bad. We’ve given them so much more weight than they deserve or really even ask for. I blame People magazine! Pages of celebrities filling up gas tanks. Who cares?! (>>me as a 14 yr. tryna get some Josh Harnett)

  • I have to be honest, I only began to understand cultural appropriation this NYFW because it happened to me and my culture. Nicole Miller’s Panamania collection is all inspired by Panama, although she credits it, she’s still profiting from all our indigenous tribes who work so hard to earn a living through their crafts. The Mola was ripped off, the chaquiras, even the Pollera; our national dress. The Pollera is made by a handful of women in Panama who are taught from generation to generation. Each dress takes hundreds of hours to make. It’s couture and one Pollera costs thousands of dollars. On one level, I felt proud to see Panama through the eyes of a designer showing on none other than a NYFW runway, but on the other hand I felt sad for all the people on Panama who actually own the copyright to the dresses, fabrics and techniques she references. I’m not sure if she will be donating any profits from the collection to Panama, but it would be the right thing to do. It would’ve also been nice to see more Latinas on her runway.
    Anyway, I understand now, unfortunately! It is a shame. It does seem like MJ did this for the traffic and discussion because it’s just so obvious how wrong it is.

    • Aydan

      or could have employed native seamstresses for the creation. That would have been awesome!

  • Allie

    For the sake of discussion (because this is clear appropriation) – does it still feel like cultural appropriation if the dreads are on white women, but credited to black culture?

    How do we feel if there are more black women on the runway, and when interviewed, Guido says, “I pulled from black culture in America. I’ve always found black women’s hair inspiring and beautiful, and I wanted to celebrate that stage”?

    Does it bother us that it’s white girls in dreads or that we’re not crediting black culture or both? If the models are more diverse and credit is given where do, do we still have a problem?

    Where does paying homage to a culture stop and appropriation truly begin? Should we stay in our own lanes or is it okay to pull from other cultures as inspiration?

    • horusfitzfancy

      I’ve thought about this too. In general I am kind of a “stay in your lane” person at this point in time.

      In a perfect world where designers and models of color find themselves having the same opportunities as everyone else I think it might scan.

      However, because fashion as an industry is still dominated by white designers, white models, etc. it seems like its still fraught territory. Something about giving credit but still casting predominantly white models while selling an aesthetic derived from a culture that has been alternately fetish-ized and marginalized as a luxury still feels sort of mercenary to me.

      • Allie

        Right!

        But is this a dangerous place to live? Isn’t risk taking and creative insight a fundamental part of fashion? No, that doesn’t mean fashion and creativity are inherently linked to culture, but isn’t that part of it?

        Fashion, by nature, caters to a privileged market. So even if we minimize margins and become a more equally diverse community, do we ever accurately represent the underprivileged?

        And will equality in this world mean that lines can blur or will we double down on who can represent what culture and where? Does a culturally homogeneous pool of designers mean that we’ll ever be okay with a black designer putting an Indian sari on the runway, or with a white hairdresser sending out girls in cornrows?

        Do you like this thing I’m doing where I’m only asking questions but not saying very much?

        I struggle because at its core, the concept of pulling from all cultures is beautiful. But in practice it feels exactly as you say – fetishized. At the same time, sometimes I wonder if we’re suffocating ourselves to make up for those we find ignorant or daft.

        I don’t know if there is a one answer, but I’m curious to hear what other women think. The real answer is found in listening to others. (<-This sounds a little Disney-ish, no?).

        • horusfitzfancy

          I guess the issue that I have with some of these presentations is that they aren’t actually particularly risky so much as rehashing tired stereotypes or just continuing the practice of using the art and aesthetics of a culture which is something that has been going on forever. It’s true that everyone has reference points and it’s unrealistic to ask people to completely divorce themselves from a globalized culture however, I think we need to ask ourselves how much of this is originality and how much of it is designers using certain styles as cognative shorthand for “edgy” because that is how it’s been done in the past?
          Additionally, I totally get what you’re saying about the question of “where does inspiration ends and appropriation begin?” A) I’m not sure. B) I’m not sure it’s for me to decide. I mean a few seasons ago Valentino used and referenced Marc Chagall paintings on their clothing even though they themselves are not Jewish as far as I know. Is that legitimate? Is there a difference between using art as a reference point and slipping on someone’s identity or are these more similar than we generally recognize? Again, I don’t know.

          • horusfitzfancy

            Also that last paragraph was the single most “Carrie Bradshaw does Social Justice” thing I have ever written. Bar none.

          • J Dubbs

            Very insightful @horusfitzfancy:disqus . Your comments are always spot on. I thoroughly appreciate that you can both understand/articulate the issue and are willing not to perpetuate it further. Black women’s hair in Africa was styled in certain ways to show tribe connection, class, elegance, pride, etc. When we were shipped to the US, many black women continued to style their hair in the ways they had learned which were eye catching and attracted the attention of slave owners. Slave owner’s wives did not like this, however, and black women were soon mandated to cover the hair under scarves. Still creative, slaves started to style the headscarves/turbins that they were forced to wear (and one of the reasons black women wear twisted scarves today). Our hairstyles, jewelry, features are some of the few things we still hold closely today because they give us pride in ourselves when others tried to convince us that there was nothing beautiful about us. Even now we are considered the least beautiful women on earth while our culture is placed on a platform for other women/designers/the media/socialites to cherry pick what they want to steal and pass off as revolutionary, new, never seen before, cutting edge, high end etc. If we were actually considered beautiful by the people taking from us and the cultural origins acknowledged/cited, I would not have any issue with anyone wearing conrows, braids, dreadlocs, etc. If the same people wearing dreadlocs were willing to petition schools, corporations, etc that create regulations against black hairstyles, that is a different story. But how can people have disdain for black people but love to borrow from our culture at the same time?? Why must the meaningful things we’ve done for decades be twisted into today’s fads by people who care nothing about our struggle, just to be discarded with tomorrow’s trash? When people are willing to stand with us against discrimination, not look the other way, then and only then do I not feel that they are appropriating black culture. When people choose to respect and identify with us rather than score a few likes on social media and a magazine cover, i will condone sharing our culture.

          • horusfitzfancy

            Thanks so much! I know I, for one, really appreciated the great information, context, and point of view provided in your comment! Really glad that people are engaging with this topic.

    • CDC

      I wonder the same thing. I understand that Guido’s missed opportunity is what’s really at fault here, but I am honestly confused as to why we are attaching so much value to his words. Maybe he knows about the provenance of the hairstyle and maybe he doesn’t, but as long as we the readers know, why does it matter? We should hold ourselves to the right moral standards.

      He didn’t say he invented the hairstyle, just that it was Marc’s vision of raver hair, and given that it is his show, I don’t see why he would need to go into the history of the hair during a quick backstage interview. Maybe it should have been included in the show notes, but I don’t understand why backstage.

      I want to understand, so anyone that does please explain. I am Latina, and maybe because my country specifically doesn’t really have things like this (hairstyles or specific clothing we consider as culturally important), cultural appropriation is a blindspot I need to work on as well. I want to learn.

      • kduck

        I’m sorta with you CDC. I understand what everyone above has been saying about appropriation. And I can see where they’re coming from. However, I consider myself a pretty empathetic person and I didn’t think twice about the locks.

        His quote, I guess, was the most concerning thing (though I wouldn’t label it as “concerning”, honestly). Not everyone giving a quick interview is going to say everything perfectly PC all the time. Social media is what makes a mountain out of a mole hill in this case. People shouldn’t always be afraid of censoring what they have to say. He obviously wasn’t saying “we took a culture’s hair and made it so much better”. It’s a show. They combined elements that aren’t typically combined. Rainbow locks, let’s be honest, are not extremely common. The fact that he didn’t even mention WOC, to me, is a testament that he isn’t concerned with classifying people and races based on how they choose to style their hair. It was an aesthetic, artistic decision. If anything, staying in our lane is going to be divisive and intensify issues like this. I’m just a bit exhausted from hearing about so many of these issues getting blown out of proportion because of a third party’s interpretation.

        Sorry, bit of rant there. I’m totally open to discussion about this, but I just think it’s important to remember that people are generally kind, no one will ever fully understand another’s story, and worrying about being PC 100% of the time is going to divert energy and time from pushing boundaries and moving forward.

        • Leandra Medine

          Can I counter this by asking one question? if no one had said anything at all about the dreads and just went on to talk about the clothes, and how the colors in the dreads looked against them…or something, would you have found them problematic? I think in many ways It is a luxury for us to feel like we don’t need to add to the conversation and even more that these are the kinds of issues the outrage machine is talking about right now but the luxuries don’t take away from the fact that this stuff still needs to be addressed. I agree with leslie that it’s a shame, because the clothes were SO damn good, THIS is the reason we rally through new york fashion week. but it would have felt really irresponsible if we commented on them without addressing the hair issue

          • kduck

            This is a good question, and I think it might help highlight/differentiate what I was saying in my last post –which was a rant in real-time (not the greatest) and the more I think about this the more my opinions shift. So if we move away from Guido’s comment and on to the cultural appropriation of hairstyles, well, we could talk about this for days. Let me start by saying that appropriation of hairstyles can cause harm and it’s not something to be taken lightly. The reason the rainbow locks did not blip my radar at first is because they’re a bit outside of what I would consider a realistic hairstyle for the average person. I know and agree that the balance of power is definitely not equal and WOC are often ostracized for their natural hair, but this was just so stylized to me that it sort of fell outside of the realm of the average appropriation discussion. I know I’m getting specific here. But that’s why the locks didn’t blip. However, I do understand that putting them on a group of mostly white women, then calling it “chic and sophisticated” is a problem. However, though the group wasn’t staggeringly diverse, the models were not exclusively white, so I just don’t think Guido’s intent was to say “we put this on white girls and it becomes cool”. I think that was an unfortunate side effect of circumstances and was what I was trying to approach with my “PC” comments. I don’t think the hair should have gone un-addressed . Quite the opposite. I think it should be discussed, but not via sound bites from someone who likely didn’t make the decision to use rainbow locks. People should be asking Jacobs about this. Maybe it was a poor choice on his part, maybe his intent was to foster discussion. We don’t know yet. It just concerns me that everyone is so quick to jump on Guido for a comment that, though maybe careless, seemed fairly benign in intent to me. I want to look at the bigger picture and ask the people in charge “Why did you make the choice you did?” Does that make sense?

          • CDC

            I do think it’s worth discussing, which is why I want to know why people have found the dreadlocks so problematic. I don’t think I personally would have thought so without everyone’s comments, but it is a testament of the times we live in that as soon as I saw them I thought “people are going to be upset about the hair”.

            Had Guido made the appropriate commentary, would this matter as much? That’s where my confusion stems from: is it a problem to have dreadlocks at all, or is it that he didn’t address their provenance/properly talk about what I’m guessing is the real origin?

        • Kerriacakes

          I gotta disagree with you on his quote not saying we took another cultures hair and made it better bc he is almost blatantly stating that without saying those words.

          “The interesting thing about Marc is how he takes something so street and so raw, and because of the coloration of the hair and the makeup, it becomes a total look. Something that we’ve bypassed on the street and not really looked at, or seen a million times, he makes us look at it again in a much more sophisticated and fashionable way.”

          And the fact he didn’t mention POC as one of the inspirations from the list he obviously had enough time to spout doesn’t tell me he isn’t concerned with boxing ppl in but he actually chose to ignore an opportunity to give credit where it was due. I don’t think it had anything to do really with having time to be PC or not.

          • CDC

            You’re touching on my real question: was it problematic to have dreadlocks in general, or was it that he didn’t address them properly/talked about POC?

          • Kerriacakes

            Honestly I think it’s a combo of both. The debate of cultural appropriation has been a hot topic for a while now with dreads almost always in the mix. So with that said…the dreads being used weren’t really necessary I think the rainbow hair could’ve been done and effective w/o them but since they were used, he could have at least gave credit to the origin of the influence. Honestly to me the difference between cultural appropriation and honoring (I feel like that’s not the word I truly want but w/e) another culture lies mostly within the credit.

        • Jessicaaaa

          It’s really important to stop wholly equating racism with evil, mean people. Even people who are “generally kind”, who have their heart *in the right place*, who aren’t *intending* to cause harm, can and do do racist and insensitive things all the time. This is exactly how pervasive and invisible white privilege can be. Literally the least he can do is listen and apologise when he gets called out, rather than being weird, aggressive and defensive.

  • Lets stop making a problem a problem. His models have dreads so what? Black bair is beautiful let fashion scream that loud. Whether they choose to acknowledge it or not You know who you are. Own your throne and be happy. Focus on positivity and Live your Life ❤???????

  • MG

    I think I echo a lot of the sentiments here in that I find the commentary so much more offensive than the wearing of the dreadlocks. Should white people wear dreads? No. But Palau’s comment is blatantly racist. “Here, let me take what you did and make it sophisticated and fashionable on a white lady.” SMH

    • James Firestein

      I think you make a very important distinction here.

      Fashion is, at the moment, a mixing of American cultures and subcultures, and it hasn’t always been that way. There was a period in fashion history that catered exclusively to European Americans of the highest income brackets, in which the fashion of the day were explicitly and exclusively drawing from European influences, with no representation of any other cultural groups. This was broken down in the sexual revolution of the 1960’s, and reached mainstream status in the 1970’s. To me, this change from cultural homogeny benefitted everyone, regardless of identity politics.

      Today, we see cultural blends that make our (American) fashion interesting, provocative, and distinctly ours. In my honest opinion, attempting to force designers to make disclaimers, or “cite” cultural sources is a form of thought policing that is inherently dangerous to any given artform, not just fashion.

      That aside, the problem with this collection was not in the clothes, or the hair, or the references. It was the very last sentence of Palau’s comment. “…he makes us look at it again in a much more sophisticated and fashionable way.” I’m not certain about Palau’s views on race, but I can certainly say that as an artist, it is not part of the art process to judge (or in this case, condescend to) your references. This was a huge mistake on Palau’s part.

      I would love to know if anyone disagrees with my assessment! 🙂

  • G

    I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. This cultural appropriation discussion is a bit blown out of proportion. Everyone gets inspiration from something/ somewhere or someone. If we really look at the history of dreadlocks it does not originate from black culture. Dreadlocks have been around since Ancient Egypt. So are woman or men of color involved in cultural appropriation by copying what has been part of ancient Egypt culture??

    • pdbraide

      do you make sense to your self?

    • pdbraide

      1. some black hair… not all but Ill say most by nature of its texture can form dreads. we don’t have to “copy” culture. It just grows from our heads.
      2. Who was in ancient Egypt? Use google. You may see things about race and even shaved hair or wigs.

      The tendency to flatten discussions worries me a great deal. and flat becomes “real”.

  • Jamie

    The models are complicit in this as well. When high tier models like Karlie Kloss, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and Jourdan Dunn take part in this problematic behavior without a word otherwise, especially Jenner whose sisters have been guilty of appropriation multiple times, why are they not held accountable as well? Or why do they choose to not speak up? I find it hard to believe that not a single one is unaware of this issue, and their indifference (or willful ignorance) is disconcerting. I don’t believe I’m holding them to too high of a standard here. Models seem to just be another part of today’s problems in fashion.

    • Jamie

      Also, Jacobs’ typical white guy reply concerning his appropriation was racist and discouraging.

      https://pbs.twimg.com/media/Csc1h15UMAExfKP.jpg

      • bb222

        oh, MJ… you just made it so, so much worse.

      • James Firestein

        I don’t think Marc Jacob’s response to the mentioned arguments is racist. Here’s why:
        Telling someone “You cannot wear that because you are X.” is discriminatory at best. It’s what justifies all kinds of hatred. Women “couldn’t” wear suits previous to the menswear for women movement by this very logic. Men “couldn’t” wear heels due to this logic as well. This statement is the real discrimination, not the fact that white girls wore dreads.
        If you disagree, I’d love to know anyones thoughts!

        • Jamie

          Obviously you don’t understand what cultural appropriation actually is. Both of the situations you cite are examples of sexism, not cultural appropriation.

          • James Firestein

            Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture. I think I’m clear on the definition.

            I was not saying that my examples were of cultural appropriation, I was saying that they are a result of the “You cannot wear that because you are X.” mindset that is indicative of the side of the argument that claims Cultural Appropriation is bad/evil. When you claim that something is cultural appropriation as a negative thing, you are supporting “You cannot wear that because you are X.”, which has led to massive ammounts of discrimination and REAL racism/sexism/homophobia/transphobia etc.
            I hope that clears up what I was saying. I apologize if it confused anyone else too! 🙂

          • Jamie

            Cultural appropriation is not that simple, and your implication that appropriation isn’t “REAL racism” is indicative of your ignorance. Boy, bye.

          • James Firestein

            Please don’t take what I have said thus-far as being rude. I in no way intend it to be, and I don’t believe I have been rude.
            I sincerely don’t believe cultural appropriation is real racism. When someone adopts or uses elements of another’s culture, they are not discriminating based on race. In fact, I would support the claim that it is the exact opposite. They are embracing the culture, not attempting to silence or to discriminate.
            Maybe if I introduce a little of where I’m coming from, this may help you understand that I am not ignorant of this subject. In fact, cultural appropriation is very real to me.
            I belong to the LGBT+ community. A subculture that has been approprated in countless ways for decades, if not centuries.
            But, I wish our culture was appropriated MORE, not less. Non-LGBT+ people should, and can appropriate our culture! We have much to learn from each other. If we share these cultural aspects with each other, and if others embody those aspects, we can only become a closer humanity.
            What I assume is your position, that cultural appropriation is negative, only drives people farther apart. How can we share our common humanity when we are told that we cannot engage and explore other cultures? This is what I am trying to encourage.
            As Lionel Shriver says, we should be able to try on different hats that are not our own. That’s what makes for a free and open society that embraces differences instead of segregating everyone into tiny boxes.

          • Jamie

            Look, it is incredibly simple to just google cultural appropriation and read why it is bad. We are talking in circles, and you are being willfully ignorant.

            http://everydayfeminism.com/2013/09/cultural-exchange-and-cultural-appropriation/
            http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/07/white-people-black-hairstyles/
            http://everydayfeminism.com/2016/05/defending-cultural-appropriation/

          • James Firestein

            I’m no longer sorry. You clearly lack the maturity to discuss this topic.

            Repeating dogma and ideology ad nauseum is no supplement for actual thought. Not every opinion you see spew from Everyday Feminism is fact. It’s a perspective. Learn to differentiate. Please.

            If you truly cared about oppressed groups, you would be able to discuss this topic like a thoughtful adult, and add insight to a world that needs it desperately. Instead, you have done nothing but demonized me, and you don’t even know me.

            I write and talk about this topic extensively. I was hoping to come to this forum post to LEARN something from a real human being about this topic that may have expanded my views. Clearly, I came to a place that harbors such hatred for those who disagree, that you result to fauxminist buzzword insults and thought-shaming.

            When you enter the real world, try to be a little more diplomatic.

            Love trumps hate.

          • Jamie

            I have no obligation teach you anything nor to even reply to you. I have a life outside of the internet, and I owe you nothing. You have the entirety of human knowledge at your fingertips, but, no, my
            refusal to hold you hand and educate you stopped you from learning?
            What a joke. If you truly wanted to learn nuances of racism in the modern world then you wouldn’t do it in the comments section of a fashion website.

            It is also laughable that you think that I harbor “hatred” by using “buzzword insults” when you use the term “fauxminist.” You were never going to “expand [your] views” and to imply that my refusal to engage you in a long conversation that would take up my valuable time (because guess what you aren’t worth it) means that I don’t care about oppressed groups only confirms that you truly are willfully ignorant.

            Just by a quick google search, I see that on your Twitter that you:

            1) Have no respect for the Black Lives Matter movement, especially when you say “white lives matter” isn’t racist when it’s been categorized as a terrorist organization by the SPLC
            2) Consistently ridicule feminism
            3) Equate being gender fluid to being a unicorn (i.e. non-existent)
            4) On multiple occasions, mock accusations of cultural appropriation
            5) Are blatantly Islamophobic

            So, your opinion was already made up. Don’t kid me or yourself. I’m not going to dignify your sexist and racist ass with a reply anymore.

          • Sharon

            Read the tone of your comments compared to the tone of James Firestein’s comments, then ask who the “hater” is? Your comments show your intolerance for other viewpoints and opinions. You seem incapable of defending your opinions with facts. Your comments are nothing but ad hominem attacks.

          • James Firestein

            Thank you, Sharon . I really am not attempting to be difficult, I originally came to this thread because I knew people with differing opinions than mine would be here, willing to discuss in a civilized manner. I did not come to instigate, and expecially not to make anyone angry, feel attacked, or to troll!
            I’m not sure where Jamie is getting that I’m an ignorant, sexist, racist. I consider myself an Equity Feminist, anti-racist, and and a general humanist and egalitarian.

            I simply question that the anti-Cultural Appropriation argument is in line with traditional Feminist theory. Typically, egalitarian movements such as Feminism (before intersectionality theory), move to create more cultural blends, not less, and attempt to bring everyone closer together as ONE humanity. In my opinion, complaints of Cultural Appropriation tend to garner what I describe as “You cannot wear that because you are X.” line of thinking, which I argue is a regression from the equity progress we have so far made in the West, and particularly the U.S.
            Yes, sexism and racism still exist, and they are a problem. There’s no doubting that at all. I just think we are spending too much time and resources chasing the small stuff, or even created problems, when there are much larger problems at hand.
            @disqus_NwCDnFj7f8:disqus, you looked at my Twitter! Great! But just know, I agree with the phrase “Black Lives Matter”. There’s no denying the cultural, social, economic, and political importance of black lives and black voices, and the violence that is plaguing the communities of POC in the United States. I just don’t agree with the movement’s tactics, particularly when engaging with police, and students/citizens with whom they disagree.
            When I ridicule feminism, I am not talking about classical Feminism or Feminist Theory, I am talking about intersectional feminism, which for the most part I object to. I am entitled to do that, as a feminist. Critiquing one’s own movement is a good thing, not a bad thing. No movement is perfect, so there is always room for discussion.
            I also only criticize Islam as a political structure, if you read on my postings. Not the religion, and certainly not the people who practice it. As a gay man, it is terrifying to me, in a very real way. Again, not muslims, and not even the religion of peace. The political structure that allows and endorses beheading of LGBT+ people, and various racial minorities, and women!
            Above all, I believe in freedom of speech, expression, and offence. I respect everyone’s opinions, regardless of what “side” they are on. And at the end of the day, who cares what I think? I’m just trying to learn, grow, and engage with people. Quelle horreur!
            If you find a change of heart, and decide that I am not the monster you seem to assume I am, I would check out Camille Paglia and Christina Sommers, two very prominent feminists with whom I tend to agree, but you don’t have to.

          • Sharon

            Love Camille Paglia and Christina Hoff Sommers!

            Also Midge Decter and Christine Rosen.

          • Is saying boybye cultural app

            Have you “learned” the nuances of racism outside of a Google search?

          • Sharon

            So is it cultural appropriation when a black woman straightens her hair?

          • J Dubbs

            No, black women are not allowed to wear natural styles to some offices and/or schools. Thus, are essentially coerced to assimilate and wear more “acceptable” straight styles. Also, some black women were born with straight hair.

          • Sharon

            Is it cultural appropriation when I black woman straightens her hair because she wants to, not because she’s ‘coerced’?

          • JShanae

            Who’s culture is she appropriating? Almost all races have straight hair. Asians, Indians, Native Americans, Hispanics, Caucasians, some Blacks etc. Straight hair isn’t specific to any culture just like hair color is not specific. White and other races of people are rarely criticized for coloring their hair, which is comparable, as it is not culture specific. The exception is that many black women are criticized for coloring their hair blonde even though there are a small population of black blondes. In addition, many black people don’t agree and actively speak out against other blacks that chemically alter their natural hair. So yes, blacks are vocal with other blacks about purported assimilation into white culture and other cultures. Don’t know where you’ve been but that info is readily available on the ‘net. Also, the first documented case of locs were Indian Shivas, or monks. And back before combs, locs happened naturally as the hair matted. Most black people’s hair naturally dread when not manipulated over time as is the case with the Rastafi movement that brought the ‘style’ to Western Civilization. They simply stopped grooming due to political injustices and locs were the result. Also, braids, cornrows, twists, beads, etc have cultural significance and not just merely a cute style. If you researched, you would also find the evolution of these styles, their origins, & most important, their meaning to that community. I think most black people would be happy to share the culture if it wasn’t taken & repackaged as something new and devoid of that influence. If blacks weren’t racially stereotyped, profiled & insulted for the same things presented as revolutionary on other races. As I was strolling through to find the other comments you left in my inbox, I noticed that you have trolled a number of comments and I have no time for trolling today. Respectfully disagreeing is one thing but trying to be oppositional without being open to other perspectives is entirely different and a full waste of my time & energy. Further conversation is pointless bc I’m sure it will fall on deaf ears but many blessings in your future. I so wanted to address your other comments as they are laced with easily proven inaccuracies and falsehoods. You referenced Wikipedia for goodness sake on a subject that I have taken courses on and can readily provide both scholarly articles and present books on the subject matter but whatever. C’est la vie. In your world, everyone is treated equally, no injustices, Barack Obama being president means that he controls the state of race relations in your mind. Or that he controls individual state laws & policies. Total ignorance. You have no idea what limited power presidents truly have. And the scarcity of blacks in the White House, corporate America and the reigning 1% is evident if you researched. Also my stats on white crimes are supported by both the FBI and the US Department of Justice. You’d probably deny the FBI report last year and years prior that found that racist organizations have infiltrated the police department for years. Even FOX news admit that, and they hate to admit racism exists in most situations. But I digress. Take care. You will not get another response from me @Sharon

          • Sharon

            Talk about straw-man. Maybe you should try reading my comments more carefully. You argue against things that I never said.

            “I so wanted to address your other comments as they are laced with easily
            proven inaccuracies and falsehoods. You referenced Wikipedia for
            goodness sake on a subject that I have taken courses on and can readily
            provide both scholarly articles and present books on the subject matter
            but whatever.”
            If they’re such easily proven falsehoods, where is your proof of even one “falsehood”? Where are your ‘readily provided’ scholarly articles and books disproving the Wikipedia entry on the origins of dreadlocks in ancient Egypt?

            “Also my stats on white crimes are supported by both the FBI and the US Department of Justice.” I have no idea what you’re referring to. What stats on white crime did you include in your comment?

            “you are 100% incorrect about Terence Crutcher” I couldn’t possibly be 100% incorrect (or correct for that matter) about Terence Crutcher since I said nothing about Terence Crutcher. Are you capable of following a logical argument? But many blessings in your future.

            Considering that you say this is “a full waste of my time & energy,”
            you seem to be spending a lot of time and energy on this. Take care.

  • Dawn

    I want to respond in a sensitive way–wanting to be further educated about this issue, to gain better understanding. This is such a loaded issue, that at the risk of my values and character being misunderstood, I’m nervous about even entering the conversation. So here goes:
    1) Is it possible that Guido didn’t reference black women as being the primary source for the inspiration because he didn’t want to be accused of appropriation?
    2) If there isn’t a spiritual/religious attachment to a look that gets appropriated, or if that look isn’t used in a trivialized, demeaning way, why is the appropriation vilified? Why isn’t it seen as appreciation of a cool look?
    3) This discussion is important and opening the dialogue–awesome MR platform. But could Marc Jacobs have thought we were past this? That in fact using this inspiration was meant to celebrate and pay homage to a more global-borrowing-from-each-other world?

    • James Firestein

      My thoughts as well!
      Marc Jacobs nor Guido Palau were trying to steal a culture’s fashion or hairstyle. Due to both of them being involved with an industry and an art that celebrates and idolizes beauty in the form of clothing and people, this is a statement of admiration and appreciation. Again, they never said “I invented this dreadlock”, and I certainly don’t believe they even suggested it anywhere in the collection.
      I honestly believe that this controversy is built on a dangerous form of emotional reasoning, that proports a “stay in your lane” argument that stifles creative expression for us all.

      • James Firestein

        Just to clarify, by “emotional reasoning” I mean the internal dialogue that says “I FEEL it is wrong therefore it IS wrong.”
        I don’t mean that people shouldn’t bring their conscience with them.

        • naysa

          Oh good! Good to see there are other people that think like me out there. Was starting to think I’m a racist pig in despite of being half black latina…Totally for a more diverse runway and for designers explicitly crediting heir references, but also completely for creative freedom and multicultural references.

          • James Firestein

            Absolutely not racist!
            I would definitely argue that it is racist to say that white and non-POC cannot wear dreads! To argue otherwise is to irresponsibly ignore the entirety of the historical record!
            For instance, we owe the invention of dreadlocks to the ancient Mesopotamian culture of Sumer, dating approximately back to 5500 BCE. From Sumer, the style spread intermittently to the cultures of Ancient Egypt, Kush, Ancient Greece, Pre-Christian Rome, various Proto-Gothic and Pre-Christian European tribes, and eventually made its way to the Americas, particularly the Caribbean cultures, just to name A FEW.
            Unfortunately, Sumer is no longer available to comment on the cultural appropriation of their innovative hairstyle.
            Sources: Reality, but also the historical record. I highly recommend people visit their local art and natural history museums more often, if they sincerely believe that dreads are the exclusive invention and property of “black culture”. Even that term ignores the history of the African Diaspora.

  • ShopStrangeFruit

    Thank you sosososo much for touching on this and for continuing to make such a genuine effort to be inclusive.

    http://www.shopstrangefruit.com

  • Sharon

    OMG, cultural oppropriation!! Is there anything that doesn’t offend you delicate snowflakes? Look at what suffering there is throughout the world. And you go on and on about dreadlocks and cultural appropriation? Get a life!

    • Kat

      Black people have been fired or denied jobs because they chose to wear their hair in dreads or with their natural texture out. Young black girls are told that their natural hair doesn’t comply with school dress codes. You may think it’s frivolous because your privilege allows you to dismiss it, but these types of issues affect people’s livelihoods and rights to equal education.

      • Sharon

        People of any color would be fired if they didn’t comply with dress/hair-style codes. (For example, in science labs it is dangerous to wear long hair down.) “Young black girls are told that their natural hair doesn’t comply with school dress codes.” Really? Where? Do you have any evidence or a single example to back this up? There would be an outcry if this happened anywhere in the US. Regardless, I don’t know how this is relevant to ‘cultural appropriation.’

        I don’t think the notion of “cultural appropriation” is frivolous; I think it’s inane, even Orwellian. Is a black woman committing cultural appropriation when she gets her hair straightened? Or can only white people be guilty of cultural appropriation (due to their “privilege”)? The issue of cultural appropriation does not “affect people’s livelihoods and rights to equal education.”

        How would you know anything about my ‘privilege’? Are you assuming I’m white? And because I’m white, are you assuming I’m privileged? Isn’t that the definition of racism – to assume that a person has a certain characteristic (privilege) based on their skin color? Are all white people privileged regardless of their circumstances? Isn’t it prejudiced to accuse all people of a certain skin color of being guilty of something, such as privilege?

        • J Dubbs

          @disqus_xc0iNvjPWm:disqus Yes, people would be fired if they didn’t comply with dress/hair-styled codes especially if they inherently targeted natural hair. Black people are especially susceptible to these rules because they grow natural hair and would have to chemically or physically alter the hair to change its natural state to meet regulation. Please see the following links. There was outcry in the black communities, but not picked up nationally because the general population usually are unaffected by matters that do not directly affect them:

          http://www.people.com/article/kentucky-high-school-black-hairstyles-protest

          http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/king-school-natural-hairstyle-ban-condemns-black-culture-article-1.2730091

          http://www.wdrb.com/story/32691012/butler-high-school-adopts-new-hair-policy-amid-controversy

          http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/10/24/new-company-policy-forces-woman-to-cut-dreadlocks_n_4159369.html

          Also, to address your comment about black people straightening the hair, black people are often forced to straighten their hair or threatened to be expelled from school/fired from work. Google Vanessa Van Dyke, the Fla student who was threatened with that exact charge. The school actually told her that she must straighten her hair. Or Tiana Parker, who was sent home for having dreads and banned from wearing afros and dreads to school. Or Horizon Academy which banned afro textured ponytails from the school. Or the many servicewomen who were discharged from the army for wearing twists/braids. Add that to the fact that some black people are actually born with straight hair and straight hair is not connected to a specific culture as some black, and most hispanic, asian, indian, and native american cultures all have straight hair. If you are interested in more cases, google will lead you to so many more instances.

          If blacks can’t wear afros, braids, dreadlocs, twists, or natural ponytails, wouldn’t that leave straight hair as the only viable/accepted option?? My sister works as an attorney at a very conservative law firm and is not allowed to wear her hair down in its natural state. She is only permitted to wear her hair down when straightened as it is deemed more professional.

          Also, racism is different from discrimination, stereotypes, prejudices and assumptions. With racism, one’s racial group has to have the power to impose its ideals onto another group. Since black people are not in a position of power over whites (or any other race), they cannot impose negative beliefs about them against that race. That does not mean, however, that some black people do not express negative beliefs about white people in the forms of stereotypes, prejudicial behavior, assumptions about, discrimination against etc other groups of people, especially white people. But for one to be specifically “racist” they would also have to be the race in power.

          White privilege doesn’t come with a booklet. It comes when you are not affected by things that many others are affected by simply because you are white. In this case, having straight hair and not being affected by rules directed at natural hair is a privilege. You are not sent a letter home saying you escaped the issue, but you don’t have to alter any of your behavior, thoughts, hair, etc to not be affected by this rule. It doesn’t make you a bad person, it doesn’t even mean that you asked to receive this privilege, but you get it anyway. See this white boy’s poem about white privilege: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4oaGgnvDVw

          If you are genuinely interested in hearing about the realities other’s deal with, I am happy to chat with you. Be blessed.

          • J Dubbs

            @disqus_xc0iNvjPWm:disqus One more thing. Many many many black women condemn other black women that straighten their hair. So this issue is not specific to “other” women that perpetuate black culture, it extends to black women that perpetuate or assimilate to other cultures too. I don’t necessarily agree with many of the arguments, but they do exist. This is to address your question about black women not addressing black women on altering curly hair to make it straight.

          • Sharon

            I have no problem whatsoever with black (or white) women straightening their hair because they like the way it looks or with black or white women curling their hair because they like the way it looks or with whites or blacks wearing dreadlocks or putting colorful yarn in their hair or sombreros on their heads or anything else they like the look of. For gods sake, why are so many people obsessed with finding offense all around them??

          • James Firestein

            J Dubbs, I highly recommend you take a look at the historical record.

            For instance, we owe the invention of dreadlocks to the ancient Mesopotamian culture of Sumer, dating approximately back to 5500 BCE. From Sumer, the style spread intermittently to the cultures of Ancient Egypt, Kush, Ancient Greece, Pre-Christian Rome, various Proto-Gothic and Pre-Christian European tribes, and eventually made its way to the Americas, particularly the Caribbean cultures, just to name A FEW.
            Unfortunately, Sumer is no longer available to comment on the cultural appropriation of their innovative hairstyle.
            Sources: Reality, but also the historical record. I highly recommend people visit their local art and natural history museums more often, if they sincerely believe that dreads are the exclusive invention and property of “black culture”. Even that term ignores the history of the African Diaspora.
            Additionally, the whole idea of privelege, according to Intersectionality Theory, where this whole debate first entered the mainstream feminist narrative, is that it is RELATIVE.
            For instance, anyone who lives within the United States has IMMENSE privelege over someone who lives in most Eastern European nations. But noone ever stops to think about the big picture here. POC who live in the United States have privelege over the African peoples of the DRC, where rape is a tool of common warefare. But noone ever talks about that.
            What is really being argued by the proponents of cultural appropriation, and thus extended to “privelege” is the relatively miniscule difference between “White” Americans and “Black” Americans, when compared to the terrifying difference when we compare global cultures.
            We all, myself included, need to keep in mind the bigger picture of history, geography, and the still vast differences and priveleges that come with living in a post-industrial society.
            Unfortunately, not many people take the time to learn about human history, and therefore start fabricating bogus oppression to fill the gap.
            Love this debate! Keep it going!
            @disqus_xc0iNvjPWm:disqus

          • Sharon

            J Dubbs, thank you for your long and thoughtful reply.

            I think that the school bans that you linked to are very unreasonable and unfair, however, it doesn’t look as though they were specifically targeting black children’s hairstyles. They were trying to ban dreadlocks, braids, mohawks, mullets. Thankfully, after the outcry they removed the ban. (Btw, isn’t this a tautology? – “the general population usually are unaffected by matters that do not directly affect them”)
            Schools have dress codes and some students will be affected by banned clothing, hairstyles, jewelry. Most schools ban yarmulkes. Is that anti-Semitic? Of course students’ natural hair should not be banned, that’s outrageous.

            You said that your sister is not allowed to wear her hair down at work. Are white women allowed to wear their hair down? I would think not.
            My point about black women straightening their hair was that anyone can be accused of cultural appropriation. The entire notion is ludicrous. Anyone who wears dreadlocks today is committing cultural appropriation against the ancient Greeks, who were the original dreadlock-wearers and who were white (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreadlocks#Origins). Even if blacks, not whites, had invented dreadlocks 3600 years ago, so what? Why shouldn’t whites or anyone else be able to wear them? After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Everything under the sun was appropriated from those who came before us.

            Definition of racism: “the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.” It has nothing to do with one race having “power over another race” (whatever that even means). You say that “black people are not in a position of power over whites” and that blacks are not the “race in power.” The President of the United States (the most powerful position in the world!) is black, the US Attorney General is black, the Secretary of Homeland Security is black, to name a few in enormously powerful positions. You have a strange notion of power if you think blacks don’t wield power in this country. People have powerful positions regardless of race, one race doesn’t have power over any other race in this country.

            You say, “having straight hair and not being affected by rules directed at natural hair is a privilege.” So is having short hair and not being affected by rules directed at long hair. What if I’m white and I have natural hair that is very much like black natural hair (which some Jews have)? Am I still a privileged white? You said, “some black people are actually born with straight hair.” So I suppose that those black people born with straight hair are also privileged. Or is it impossible to be privileged if you’re not white? Is it impossible to be white and not be privileged?

            You say “(Privilege) comes when you are not affected by things that many others are affected by simply because you are white.” If that’s what privilege is, then everyone is privileged in some ways and unprivileged in others, in which case privilege is just a truism. Am I privileged because I’m thin and not affected by things that fat people are affected by? Am I privileged because I’m reasonably intelligent and not affected by things that low-IQ people are affected by? Am I privileged because I’m not ugly and not affected by things that ugly people are affected by? Am I privileged because I live in the US and am not affected by things that people who live in a hellhole like North Korea are affected by? Are you privileged because you’re black and not affected by things that white people are affected by? Are athletic people privileged over non-athletic klutzes?

            I would argue that black people are in many ways privileged over white people. Black people are privileged in private elementary school, middle school, high school admissions, in college admissions (we’ve recently experienced this first hand with two sons in college now), in summer internship acceptance, in competitive summer high school program admissions, in professional job applications, and on and on.

            I am genuinely interested in hearing your perspective and I appreciate the time you’ve spent on this.

  • Sharon

    You might benefit by venturing out of your cloistered world.
    From today’s WSJ:

    Notable & Quotable: The Right to Write Fiction
    Sept. 15, 2016 7:17 p.m. ET
    From novelist Lionel Shriver’s speech Sept. 8 at the Brisbane Writers Festival, transcribed by the Guardian:

    Taken to their logical conclusion, ideologies recently come into vogue
    challenge our right to write fiction at all. Meanwhile, the kind of
    fiction we are “allowed” to write is in danger of becoming so hedged, so
    circumscribed, so tippy-toe, that we’d indeed be better off not writing
    the anodyne drivel to begin with.

    Let’s start with a tempest-in-a-teacup at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Earlier this year, two students, both members of student government, threw a
    tequila-themed birthday party for a friend. The hosts provided attendees
    with miniature sombreros, which—the horror—numerous partygoers wore.

    When photos of the party circulated on social media, campus-wide outrage
    ensued. Administrators sent multiple emails to the “culprits”
    threatening an investigation into an “act of ethnic stereotyping.” . . .

    In sum, the party-favour hats constituted—wait for it—“cultural appropriation.” . . .

    But what does this have to do with writing fiction? The moral of the sombrero scandals is clear: you’re not supposed to try on other people’s hats. Yet that’s what we’re paid to do, isn’t it? Step into other people’s shoes, and try on their hats. . . .

    In the latest ethos, which has spun well beyond college campuses in short
    order, any tradition, any experience, any costume, any way of doing and
    saying things, that is associated with a minority or disadvantaged group
    is ring-fenced: look-but-don’t-touch. Those who embrace a vast range of
    “identities”—ethnicities, nationalities, races, sexual and gender
    categories, classes of economic under-privilege and disability—are now
    encouraged to be possessive of their experience and to regard other
    peoples’ attempts to participate in their lives and traditions, either
    actively or imaginatively, as a form of theft. . . .

    The author of “Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in American Law,” Susan Scafidi, a law professor at Fordham University who for the record
    is white, defines cultural appropriation as “taking intellectual
    property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from
    someone else’s culture without permission. This can include
    unauthorised use of another culture’s dance, dress, music, language,
    folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc.”

    What strikes me about that definition is that “without permission” bit.
    However are we fiction writers to seek “permission” to use a character
    from another race or culture, or to employ the vernacular of a group to
    which we don’t belong? Do we set up a stand on the corner and approach
    passers-by with a clipboard, getting signatures that grant limited
    rights to employ an Indonesian character in Chapter Twelve, the way
    political volunteers get a candidate on the ballot?

    I am hopeful that the concept of “cultural appropriation” is a passing fad: people with different backgrounds rubbing up against each other and exchanging ideas and practices is self-evidently one of the most productive,
    fascinating aspects of modern urban life.

  • Alison

    Thank you, MR, for covering fashion as a living, breathing, organism — the good and the bad, and creating this space for your readers.

    I like the clothes and find Guido’s statement obnoxiously absurd. “Something that we’ve bypassed on the street and not really looked at, or
    seen a million times, he makes us look at it again in a much more
    sophisticated and fashionable way.”

    Intent matters. If he had said, “We wanted to celebrate blackgirlmagic and creativity by combining dreadlocks and Sailor Moon,” I could understand the logic behind the decision making process. I can’t speak for other readers, but that would be my response to CDC’s question.

  • rachel

    Aside from the deadlocks themselves and Guido’s statement (which I agree were problematic) I can’t believe Marc Jacobs decided to go with the old “I’m not racist you’re racist because you see color and I don’t” in his response on instagram. Have we not yet figured out that by saying “I don’t see color” you’re pretending that the unique experiences (not only bad but good as well) of black women, and all women/men of color, don’t exist!?

    • ESW

      He’s ALSO not racist because he tweeted about the black model, duh. (“Some of my best friends are black!”)

  • fine

    i completely agree with this article, and its so sad bc i love the platform shoes, i loved the set, the fun outfits and bags but the hair oh dear me… the worst part is how poorly they handled it.

  • Carina

    Had a ‘Yes!’ moment when I saw this article. The same stream of thought was my first and continued reaction when I looked at the show online.

  • Silent queen

    Great article, thanks for being honest and bringing this to light! It refreshing when people call things as they are instead of trying to sugar coat it. Kudos!

  • Chiara Settineri

    I was waiting for an article like this to be published..
    What you wrote in that final paragraph is so true and I hadn’t really thought about it before: IT WAS SO UNNECESSARY. Honestly, the hair distracted from the clothes. He could’ve achieved the same effect with some crimped hair and colored extensions (minus the cultural appropriation, might I add). I am just over the fashion world’s blindness to cultural appropriation. The issue isn’t that they are taking inspiration from other cultures, because that is natural and spurs creativity; the real issue is that those very cultures that they are adopting aspects of are the ones that they simultaneously view as inferior (“street” becoming more sophisticated because it is now on a runway displayed on mostly white women, really?). The fashion world needs to start giving credit where credit is due.

  • Serious question

    I’m just selfish. When I see a non Hispanic looking woman wearing the boho embroidery look that is straight up Mexican I envy the fact that they can wear it without being mistaken for a waitress in a cheesy restaurant. Should I be angry and cry cultural appropriation? I really just want to wear the damn shirt without being stereotyped.

  • I say Marc Jacobs knew what was coming, remember this is not the first time. He did the same with the Bantu Knots, the guy loves exploiting black culture and black people but that should be a wake up call for us black people.
    Learn where to spend our hard earn Euros/Dollars.

    http://www.distinguisheddiva.com/2016/09/luxury-wood-watch-editorial-plus-jord.html

  • Katie N.

    I’m a lover of fashion and just of people. I usually hate when people throw this card but it’s really hard for me to take seriously people being offended by colored pieces of yarn when people are getting blow to bits in Syria.
    Look around, get a grip, life’s pretty good.
    And also listen to leandras podcast, because even though it isn’t about this at all, what I gained from it is let all the BS fall to the wayside and be happy for your health and by my extension that your life isn’t being threatened.

    • pdbraide

      His statement was the problem. taking something that’s street and unnoticeable and making it fashion. Dreads are so unnoticeable Loreal does a line for afro hair care. When I see artfully done dreads on same “street” (whatever that means) I see fashion already. Ironically said “street” carrier of dreads might even be wearing a Marc Jacobs piece and be a fashion editor. It was a thoughtless and condescending statement. All that was necessary was to either shut up or say I love locs and wanted them in the show, not I elevated something raw and street into sophisticated (as opposed to what?) fashion. ugh!!!

    • J Dubbs

      @disqus_6IS1sGZyoZ:disqus I disagree. Life isn’t that great for some black people in America. Many of the lower class blacks are being killed by its own government for no reason. We shouldn’t ignore issues just because other people in other places may have it worse. We should acknowledge those who have it worse than us, but we should also acknowledge problems wherever we see them. One doesn’t mutually exclude the other.

      • Katie N.

        I see where you’re coming from, but I wouldn’t agree that “many” lower class blacks people are being killed by government. Currently the majority of African Americans that are being murdered is by other African Americans. Many implies most. I honestly think it’s very privileged of someone to imply the plight of African Americans in America even begins to compare to GENOCIDE occuring in Syria. Are millions of people fleeing our country to Canada and Mexico? I guess we’ll see after the election. But it really angers me that someone would even begin to compare the two.

        • James Firestein

          @disqus_6IS1sGZyoZ:disqus is making a good point here. Sure, when you just look at “Black” deaths, it is far to many. But in order to fully grasp the immensity of the issue, some perspective is required. That is what Katie has here.
          @disqus_iDogCDdWMc:disqus , would you argue that Black Americans, and the African peoples of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, are equally oppressed? Reminder that the DRC is consitently a nation with the lowest GDP on the planet, and rape is a common weapon of war?
          All things considered, you are incredibly priveleged to be able to argue about the miniscule issue of hairstyles, in lieu of real oppressions happening in some nations around the world in 2016.
          Also, I just want to leave this little chart here, for a little more information about what the dangers of a lack of perspective can do:
          https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6f87fdbfbaf49ddf35ab0b2af3bb9ddbf73101bca8a8aa7dea1fb200a473b7af.jpg

    • J Dubbs

      @Katie N. Well first, you are incorrect. I never compared the two. Please reread my comment. I said that the two are not mutually exclusive. To break it down for you, that means that one shouldn’t ignore one issue because another issue is larger. Both issues can and should be addressed appropriately. Second, “many” is more closely equivalent to “some” than it is to “most” or “all.” Many and Some are both subjective qualifiers, whereas All/None and Most are objective. In 2015 alone, over 100 unarmed black people were killed by police. That is a subjectively large number to me and thus, ‘many’ is the appropriate use of that word. In fact, an unarmed black person was just killed by police on Friday with hands raised simply because his car broke down on the side of the road. By admitting that this is an issue, does in no way signify that other issues around the world are not happening and in some cases (like the recent terror issues abroad), are not worse. The world does not standstill when ISIS are killing people, when bombings happen in France, during 9/11, during this recent Syria issue, etc. IF your argument is that these issues should be prioritized, that is entirely different and I could agree with that stance. For instance, if two patients were rushed to the hospital, one having a heart attack and the other suffering from a broken leg, YES they would prioritize the patient at higher risk of death and needing more imminent attention but they would not completely ignore/deny aid to the patient with the less severe ailment. They would merely prioritize the aid given. That is my point. I can care about Syria and still care about kidnapped children here, sex trafficking, racial disparities, the presidential election, etc. ALL of these issues are alarming and deserve attention/address at varying degrees. Next, you mention blacks killing blacks, but the statistics show that usually when people kill, they kill those close to them, aka people usually kill those within the same race. White people kill white people at a higher rate than black people kill black people, in fact, and white gangs kill other white gangs also at a higher rate than other races of gangs. The important thing to note is that perpetrators of any crime, both black and white, should be penalized for whatever they have done. But I don’t want to stray from my issue or point. My issue is that government officials are paid by its residents to keep them safe. Not harm them. Citizens do not take an oath, undergo ‘extensive training’ or get paid to kill each other as officers do, and are usually penalized for those crimes that they do commit (and sometimes for crimes that they do not, but that is an entirely different issue). Often (which is also an appropriate term given the statistics) government officials are not penalized for using unnecessary or inappropriate force. Police do risk their lives daily and are under high stress, but they CHOSE this profession. If they are not equipped to handle these situations, they should be sitting at a desk. Rather than being angered by my addressing these issues, you should be active. If you are not doing something for the Syrian plight, do something. If you are not doing something for vulnerable populations in the US or abroad, do something. Don’t just “be happy for your health” try to ensure the health of others if you can/desire/care. Because being proactive only about one’s self is selfish and not helpful to those suffering in Syria or right here. Otherwise, this whole conversation about Syria is us talking about unfortunate circumstances somewhere without lending a hand in some way. In the end, I think that we can come together. All of us. It seems that both of our hearts are in the right place. I appreciate your comments and your perspective because it helps me to understand your point of view and learn about others. I hope you feel the same way. Peace.

      • Sharon

        “In fact, an unarmed black person was just killed by police on Friday
        with hands raised simply because his car broke down on the side of the
        road.” This is not what happened. He had a gun.

        In fact, there is no racial bias in police shootings. (see Harvard study: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/12/upshot/surprising-new-evidence-shows-bias-in-police-use-of-force-but-not-in-shootings.html?_r=0)

        You may want to read Jason riley:
        http://www.wsj.com/articles/jason-riley-the-other-ferguson-tragedy-1416961287
        “Blacks are just 13% of the population but responsible for a majority of
        all murders in the U.S., and more than 90% of black murder victims are
        killed by other blacks. Liberals like to point out that most whites are
        killed by other whites, too. That’s true but beside the point given that
        the white crime rate is so much lower than the black rate.
        Blacks commit violent crimes at 7 to 10 times the rate that whites do.
        The fact that their victims tend to be of the same race suggests that
        young black men in the ghetto live in danger of being shot by each
        other, not cops. Nor is this a function of “over-policing” certain
        neighborhoods to juice black arrest rates. Research has long shown that
        the rate at which blacks are arrested is nearly identical to the rate at
        which crime victims identify blacks as their assailants. The police are
        in these communities because that’s where the emergency calls
        originate, and they spend much of their time trying to stop residents of
        the same race from harming one another.”

  • Loving the idea and concept behind Marc Jacobs collection!

    http://www.jivaro.com.au

  • Meaghan Young

    Maybe fashion week is a total snooze fest, because it’s basically irrelevant to the average person’s life? If Marc Jacobs or anyone else is trying to get the public engaged – there’s got to be a better way…

  • Trina

    One thing that no one is discussing is the origins of the dreadlocks hairstyle. It existed all over the ancient world, from Egypt to the Celtic tribes and even Vikings. In fact Shiva (a Hindu god) is often portrayed in dreads and holy men in India have worn the hairstyle for centuries (and you still see it today). Centuries later, Marcus Garvey and the Rasta movement adopted the style as a religious symbol. I don’t write this to discredit people who are offended by what they perceive as cultural appropriation, your feelings are your own and there are serious issues with the diversity of models in fashion. I just wonder if the solution you are suggesting is that we go back in human history, find the origins of beauty looks and divide up who is allowed to wear those looks based on genetics. To me, that seems like the opposite of social progress.

  • Sharon

    Who are the “cultural appropriators”?
    From Wikipedia on the origins of dreadlocks:

    “Some of the earliest depictions of dreadlocks date back as far as 3600 years to the Minoan Civilization, one of Europe’s earliest civilizations centred in Crete (modern Greece).[4] Frescoes discovered on the Aegean island of Thera (modern Santorini, Greece), depict individuals with braided hair styled in long dreadlocks.[3][4]
    In ancient Egypt examples of Egyptians wearing locked hairstyles and wigs have appeared on bas-reliefs, statuary and other artifacts.[6] Mummified remains of ancient Egyptians with locked wigs, have also been recovered from archaeological sites.[7]”

    Ancient Greeks were not black.

  • Catherine

    Great discussion.
    This is a really great podcast on cultural appropriation from Australia’s ABC radio…
    http://mpegmedia.abc.net.au/rn/podcast/2016/03/cpt_20160321_1630.mp3