Another day, another fashion faux pas.
Givenchy is the latest tone deaf European designer to send a racially-insensitive accessory down the runway. This time around, the French luxury brand featured a necklace – shaped like a noose – as part of their Spring Summer 2022 collection during Paris Fashion Week.
In recent years tons of luxury brands have made themselves an example of what racially-charged designs would ruffle feathers if marketed. At this point, Givenchy has no excuse. Light research would show that Burberry issued an apology for the noose hoodie they sent down the runway during the brand’s A/W 2019 show for London Fashion Week. Do you remember the time Commes des Garçons sent ratted cornrow wigs down the runway of their Fall 2020 show? Or how about the Gucci’s blackface snafu that sparked the conversation about the importance of diversity and inclusion. With more Black and Brown faces at the table, tone-deaf incidents like this are unlikely to occur.
Still, on Tuesday morning of October 5th in 2021, I am tasked with writing an article about a luxury designer that felt a noose would be an appropriate fashion design in this day and age. There is nothing fashionable about a neckpiece that was – and still is – used to eliminate lives. I’m tired of these brands using our history as a fashion statement while ignoring our pain, our history, and our current struggles.
As I reflect on pieces like this one being sent down the runway, it reminds me of why we need to champion Black designers. The Met Gala is a prime example of Black elite missing the mark when it comes to representation. Although there were some celebrities that attended the annual fundraiser in Black designers, a majority wore the brands guilty of sending racially offensive pieces down the runway. I fully understand that major fashion houses buy out tables at the Met Gala and invite celebrities to attend in exchange for wearing their garments. That said, how powerful would it be to bypass a Givenchy invitation for Laquan Smith?
Until we take a firm stand on supporting Black designers, we will continuously encounter these tone deaf situations where a designer will claim ignorance to their actions. What will it take for us to be fully outraged? Does Louis Vuitton need to show Black people picking cotton at the end of the runway for us to finally wake up? Given the pattern of these luxury brands, they’ll call it art, issue an apology, find a Black model for their next campaign, and repeat the cycle.