Japanese fashion brand Comme des Garçons took the stage sporting interesting outfits at Paris fashion week, but white models in cornrow wigs were the talk of the runway.
The alleged cultural appropriation was noticed by Diet Prada, who also called out Gucci over the “blackface” designs last year. In an Instagram post, Diet Prada hinted that the models appeared to be embarrassed. “The look on the models’ faces says it all,” the user posted to 1.7 million followers.
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Back in 2018, @commedesgarcons cast their first black models in over 20 years for their FW18 show, following critical comments from netizens who noticed they hadn’t featured a black model since 1994. Last night, the avant-garde Japanese label seemed to have taken a step back with their men’s show, this time putting white models in cornrow wigs. Some black models also sported the wigs, while some wore their own hair. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ Vogue Runway called them “odd”, which is a curious statement in itself, considering the stigma and discrimination of natural hair and hairstyles that embrace cultural identity (braids, Bantu knots, twists and locs). It was only in 2015 that Fashion Police host Giuliana Rancic said that Zendaya’s dreadlocks at the Oscars made her look like she “smells like patchouli oil or weed”. Suffice it to say, CDG’s decision to appropriate the braided hairstyles for white models is indeed problematic. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ On the positive side, more states are legislating to ban race-based hair discrimination, following New York and California’s decision in 2019. Dieters, what do you think about the wigs at Comme des Garçons? The look on the model’s faces say it all, don’t you think? • #commedesgarcons #culturalappropriation #pfw #pfwm #pfw20 #cornrows #wig #wigs #caucasity #commepocracy #reikawakubo #adrianjoffe #discrimination #hair #naturalhairstyles #locs #locstyles #blackhair #blackhairstyles #naturallycurly #protectivestyles #goodhair #model #malemodel #avantgarde #cdgconverse #cdgplay #cdg #vogue #dietprada
During the Saturday show, one Black model also wore the wig, while two others sported short dreadlocks. Black supermodel Adwoa Aboah commented on the use of the wigs with “Are we surprised?”
Comme des Garçons came under criticism in 2018 for failing to use Black models for 20 years, according to Yahoo News.
In response, French hairstylist Julien d’Ys stated the choice of wigs is a nod to ancient Egyptians instead of the perceived cornrows. In an Instagram post, he shared sketches that show he was inspired by Egyptian pharaoh hair, which was met with users asking why Egyptian models were not used in the show. d’Ys would later issue an apology in a second post.
“My inspiration for the Comme des Garçons show was an Egyptian prince, a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational,” he wrote on Instagram. “A look that was an hommage. Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did I deeply apologise.”
Comme des Garçons issued an apology to Dazed:
“The inspiration for the headpieces for Comme des Garçons menswear FW’20 show was the look of an Egyptian prince. It was never ever our intention to disrespect or hurt anyone – we deeply and sincerely apologise for any offense it has caused.”
Paris fashion week wrapped on Sunday with Dior and Iris Van Herpen taking the spotlight on Sunday.