After presentations this week I got to further explore and develop my team’s project on commodifying black culture. My particular interest in this trend is in fashion. While I had focused on magazines targeted primarily at white women sporting dreads, DIY afros, or the latest misappropriated fashion accessory, I came across a really shocking line that recently came out by one of the most popular designers, Valentino. While Marc Jacobs has recently been under fire in the media for featuring all his white models with colorful dreads at this years NYFW, Valentino’s 2016 spring line takes the cake. The designer’s whole inspiration behind this campaign was “tribal Africa”. While the print ads feature all white models wearing traditional tribal prints and staged in the middle of the desert, the runway show also included dozens of stick-thin white models in cornrows and “tribal” designs. This total misappropriation of African tradition and disrespect for the culture was actually so blatantly wrong I was shocked when I first read about it. As I have continued to research, high fashion seems to be way overstepping the line between “inspiration” and appropriation.

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2 responses »

  1. oliviaklugman says:

    This is truly shocking, but I wonder how the cultural dynamic would change if the fashion was referred to as “edgy prints” rather than “tribal africa”. Even though it was clearly inspired by non-specific tribal African clothing, would it be worse appropriation or less offensive appropriation if the designer didn’t refer to it as explicitly tribal African

  2. carlywinant says:

    Along the lines of Olivia’s comment, part of me wonders if white viewers would even notice that this was cultural appropriation if another name was used instead of “tribal Africa.”

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