First it was Gucci at the beginning of the year when they were criticised for sending white models down the runway with turbans, then Chanel was accused of humiliating the indigenous Australian Culture, and then it was Vogue who had to apologise for offending people with the photographs of Kendall Jenner with an afro. But most recently Dolce and Gabbana are facing backlash after their ‘racist’ advert, which features a Chinese woman struggling to eat spaghetti and pizza with a pair of chopstick, and have been forced to cancel their fashion show in Shanghai. What is happening within these big brands for this type of cultural appropriation to keep reoccurring? What conversations are being had?
At the minute within my fashion communication and promotion course we are working our way through the creative process and the four key stages. There is a lot that happens before you can even get to an outcome, from research, investigation and experimentation to planning, analysis and development. From working through this process myself in the last few months, I struggle to understand how no one within the team of Gucci or Dolce and Gabbana decided to challenge the idea or question it.
Personally I feel that the main issue, especially in terms of what Gucci and Vogue did, is that they have chosen to use a white models and have placed features, practices and products of non-white cultures onto them instead of just using models from that particular culture, and that is the problem. When I initially saw the Vogue photo I was more offended that Vogue considered that to be an afro more than anything, and I did understand why people found the whole concept offensive. I also felt that a lot of people were more upset and angry because the model was Kendall Jenner and once again it was another member of the Kardashian’s being associated with cultural appropriation. I just feel that if you are going to use diversity then do it properly and really embrace it, and then it will be appreciated and celebrated, but for now this isn’t cutting it and something needs to change.
It will be very interesting to see how Dolce and Gabbana bounce back from this backlash and how they go about changing things moving forward. After a circulation of Stefano’s racist comments online, will getting rid of him make things any better? Let’s wait and see…