Fashion designer Marc Jacobs was slammed online by critics who took him to task for affixing fake deadlocks on white female models at the presentation of his 20016 fall line of clothing for New York Fashion Week. Last night’s fashion show was dubbed by Fusion a “cross-cultural appropriative mess.”
Celebrity models such as Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner strutted their stuff on the catwalk, wearing parti-colored matted dreadlock extensions to their own hair. The dreadlocks were made of yarn and were piled high on their heads. The dreadlocks were made by Jena Counts of Florida, an elderly grandmother who has an online business on Etsy.
According to Fusion, commenters were concerned that fashionista Jacobs does not “understand or appreciate the cultural offensiveness of taking a black hairstyle that has been widely mocked within the fashion industry when worn by black people.” They found Jacobs was offensive for turning the dreadlocks into “a literal art project, sewing it onto a bunch of white women’s heads, and calling it fashion.”
Jacobs posted a response on his Instagram to defend his use of the controversial locks. He called into question the criticism directed at him for “whatever nonsense about race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner.”
“Funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair,” Jacobs wrote. “I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race–I see people.” The post on Instagram has since been deleted.
Social media was inflamed again when Jacobs wrote another post at Instagram that appeared to explain his statement on hair straightening. “Of course straight hair isn’t a white thing,” Jacobs said. “I was referring to hair styling and texture for my fashion show and [being] defensive. I apologize if I offended anyone at all. Certainly wasn’t my intention at all.”
Accusations of “cultural appropriation” are rife on college campuses and among progressives. Cultural appropriation has been defined as the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of another culture, especially when elements of a minority culture are used by members of a dominant majority.
White models donned the style to close out this year’s New York Fashion week, according to Essence magazine. At Allure magazine, the lead stylist for Jacobs' spring show, Guido, said the style was inspired by Jacob’s friend Lana Wachowski, who favors multicolored locks of hair. Stylist Guido also cited British crooner Boy George and Japanese harajuku girls among the influences in the style.
Lana Wachowski - a.k.a. Laurence "Larry" Wachowski
However, Guido did not mention Black entertainers like George Clinton, Bob Marley, Lisa Bonet and the late artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.
“As with any hairstyle for a fashion show, we look at tons of references,” he explained to the beauty magazine. “So the look ends up being a result of many different inspirations and cultural references. It’s never about just looking at one thing or one reference point—it’s a melting pot of ideas.”
reported in March that a black female employee of San Francisco State University allegedly assaulted a white male student on campus after accusing him of unjustly wearing dreadlocks. Amateur video at the time recorded that she grabbed him after he claimed the right to wear his hair as he liked. The woman then also assaulted the person recording the video.