Thursday, February 19, 2009

Really?


source: Marie Claire

Is it possible for fashion to borrow elements from a non-Western culture without obscuring that culture's identity? There is a difference in my mind between a designer incorporating a traditionally "ethnic" concepts (like beading for example) in his or her clothing and just copying something outright, stripping it of any cultural significance and say, placing it on the heel of a thousand dollar pair of pumps for some fashionista to hobble around on while not smiling.

Where that line is drawn is a trickier matter. Does it depend on how much the item costs or its function? I don't know for sure. I'm sure that I've bought ethnic "looking" things here and there without really stopping to think of who made it but there's just something about $1,400 pair of Dior shoes with graven images of mini-Africans that just seems to cross the line. Maybe I'm supposed to see something stylish and multi-culti when I look at these shoes, but in reality it just left me shaking my head in disbelief.

10 comments:

Anovelista said...

I posted the matching shoes a few months ago on my blog - http://55secretstreet.typepad.com/55secretstreet/2008/10/um.html

No need to rationalize it. The reason you are shaking your head in disbelief is because that mess is wrong!

Naturally Sophia said...

I have to tell you my initial reaction was like "I want those". Those are Hawt! But then, I thought about how I would feel if someone that was not of color had them on...I don't think I would be happy. Just like they sell the red, green, and yellow of the Rastas/Ethipian flag in Target now on bathing suits. Le sigh...

Brigitte said...

@Anovelista

Wow, the shoe looks even worse with a foot is stuck in it.

@Naturally Sophia

Thanks for commenting!

Divalocity said...

All designers have borrowed ethnic influences from other cultures without even acknowledging them.

At least YSL was honest enough to say that he loved African culture and showed his love of Africa by routinely using models of African descent and of color in his shows.

Designer John Galliano has said the inspiration for his newest collection (in which those shoes are a part of) came from his travels to Africa thus calling this collection, Tribal Chic.

The Collections for 2009 from almost all designers are based upon African influences. Could it be the Obama effect?

Shell said...

This is so wrong! This looks like some idiot put an African fertility statue on a shoe. A shoe!! Come on.

hautecocoa said...

just saw this yesterday in my marie claire and i'm definitely OFFENDED. you are not alone.

charlie said...

I don't see the problem. I think it looks fabulous!!!!!

greenholly said...

I'm not someone who sees racism everywhere I look, and I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt--so I don't imagine John Galliano was even thinking of this when he designed the shoes (I really hope not, anyway!)--but they are a literal representation of people stepping on black women, over and over and over. He SHOULD have thought about it. It's just plain old creepy-weird.

Chic Noir said...

John Galliano is pretty good when it comes to using black models, even during the recent cold period. Still, I don't feel comfortable with these shoes.

Patricia Grannum said...

thanks shining a light on this. i've seen shoes like this before and never realised the subliminal or perhaps even overt significance of the heel. i'll never look at these shoes the same way again and that's a good thing.

http://womanofcolour.blogspot.com