New York Fashion Week sizzled to an end with Marc Jacobs‘ Spring 2017 show. While his collection boasted an eclectic pallet of colors and silhouettes, what managed to get the most attention was the coif of dreads on the models’ heads.
Model Kendall Jenner of the Kardashian TV empire was also rocking the look on the runway — which is notable considering her family’s history of appropriating all things Black, from hair styles to enhanced derrieres.
When disgruntled fans spoke out against the designer for his cultural appropriation, Jacobs’ tone was dismissive, to say the least.
“And all who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any 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 …”
His response is void of the historical context and politicization of Black hair in America and worldwide. Women and men of color were required to keep their hair straight and “controlled” for decades as they navigated White spaces in order to have an “acceptable” look. A minority in a space where the white majority is considered the ‘standard’ is not ‘culturally appropriating’ when they straighten their hair to conform. Just a couple of weeks ago, we watched as South African students fought for the right to wear their hair in an Afro against an antiquated school code.
The way in which Jacobs positioned the show once again taps into the trend that Black culture on White bodies is “stylish,” but Black culture on Black bodies is political.
This isn’t the first time the designer has been under fire for his culturally insensitive runway looks. Just last year, Jacobs sent White models down the runway with ‘mini-buns’ AKA, bantu knots—a staple in natural hair styling.
Instead of using this moment as an opportunity for learning, Jacobs flexed his privilege with an erosive statement, “I don’t see color or race.”
Unfortunately, despite “colorblindness,” people of color are still reeling from the effects of centuries of people who did see color and punished us for it.
You can’t be an ally and be colorblind. It’s like saying how we feel does not exist to you. And clearly, it doesn’t.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, Instagram, Twitter