Designer Peggy Noland is making a big name for herself in the fashion world. She customized a pair of Air Jordans for Miley Cyrus to wear in her “23” video, and she designed an exclusive collection of rompers for Rihanna to rock on her Diamonds World Tour. But, her latest celebrity-themed project has a lot of people asking, “What the hell were you thinking?” — and not in a good way.
Noland recently unveiled a new line of t-shirts and dresses featuring Oprah’s head photoshopped onto a variety of nude bodies. We’re sure this Kansas City native had good intentions for shock value when she created these designs, but unfortunately for her, she failed to think twice about racial implications and the backlash she would receive for using a Black women’s body as an object. (Has she not read a single history book or listened to stories about women of color being exploited and put on display for profit?)
The fashion designer discussed her not-so intelligent explanation for the dresses during an interview with New York Magazine.
“This is a collaboration with designer [and Misbehave creative director] Sally Thurer. She’s the one who made the graphic. For me, it originated as kind of the age old [red] carpet question: Who are you wearing? And this clearly is: You’re wearing Oprah instead of a designer,” she said. “Sally mentioned from the onset of this collaboration that one of Oprah’s most effective qualities is that she’s a placeholder, she’s a stand-in for you with her foibles and her failures — especially with her public weight issues. I’m interested and sensitive to this increased access that we have to celebrities and to all of their ups and downs, for better or worse. I feel like it’s kind of my own personal exploration and exploitation of just that.”
Noland — who admitted that she’s inspired by eccentric, rich French women, R. Kelly and small-town meth addicts —went on to say that this line has “some really meaningful philosophical layers.” (Who knew?!)
“We feel very protective of our public figures. We don’t want them to be exposed that way, but we feel like they’re ours, too,” she told the magazine. “The simpler, more lighthearted idea is that it’s like one of those bikini-printed beach shirts. I think there are some really meaningful philosophical layers. I can’t believe I just said ‘philosophical’ when talking about a dress. We share a humorous underpinning to all our work. That’s why there’s naked Oprah with a KISS face. It can nod to how ridiculous the fashion industry is at times.”
And to add icing on the cake, Noland acknowledged that Mrs. Winfrey herself will most likely not be a fan of her work. “Surely Oprah personally would not be excited about having our version of her nude body splashed on a dress for other people to wear, but I think it’s an interesting conversation to have about our access and our interest in people that we don’t know,” she explained. “I would just encourage people to just be bold with it. If they’re going to buy it and wear it, just wear it. I would say leave your jacket at home, you know? Or try the T-shirt version, then you have the familiarity of pants to help you.”
Epic fail. But, honestly, what more should we expect from a person who describes her work as the place where “white trash meets high class?”
Check out what the Twitterverse had to say about this ridiculousness and learn more about Peggy Noland, below.
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