In the March issue of Elle, on the "Jewelry News" page, the lead item is a plug for new accessories from French jeweler Lydia Courteille. Her "African" collection is described as "tribal" and "primitive."
Corteille was allegedly inspired by a trip to Namibia and Kenya, but doesn't specify which, if any, people inspired her jewelry: Masai? Herero? Additionally, there are 40,000 Chinese living in Namibia. Did they inspire these "primitive" faux-masks? What's worse, on Corteille's website, while her other collections of jewelry are associated with illustrations of well-dressed white women, Corteille uses an illustration of a topless black woman with an Afro to introduce her "African" collection.
Note: In the past, Corteille designed a ring which looked like it was filled with cocaine. But what is truly irritating? Elle has pushed culturally insensitive jewelry before. The September 2008 issue featured "African" diamond necklaces made by DeBeers, a company famous for white supremacy, exploitation of black African workers and guilty of price-fixing. (Aside: They invented the phrase "a diamond is forever" to keep customers from reselling the rocks.) In any case, there are no prices mentioned for Lydia Corteille's pieces, but we found one necklace ringing up at $27,942. What's so "primitive" about that?