Comme des Garçons made the upsetting but ultimately unsurprising decision to engage in some pretty heavy handed cultural appropriation when styling the models for their men’s autumn/winter 2020 fashion show.
Walking the runway in Paris, the white models in the show wore cornrow wigs. Or, as Vogue.com’s Chief Critic Sarah Mower put it, “Odd braided wigs were set low on foreheads” (fashion people really don’t get it do they?). It should be noted that there were three black models walking in the show, one wore a wig while the other two wore their natural hair in twists. Because, you know, they didn’t need a wig to achieve the desired style.
Of course, the hairstylist for the show Julien D’ys said that it “Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone ever …” having earlier noted on Instagram that inspiration for the hair came from the pharos of Egypt, which he found “truly beautiful and inspirational.” That’s very sweet and all but it doesn’t particularly matter because none of the fucking models were Egyptian either.
This incident of cultural appropriation comes in the wake of several other issues involving race that have surfaced in the fashion world recently. Most notably the $890 blackface sweater from Gucci, and the ‘Coolest Monkey in the Jungle’ sweatshirt from H&M.
It appears that time and again the fashion industry continues to be a leader in literally not getting it at all, and I’m left to wonder why this conversation has to happen time and again. There is a very clear distinction between appreciating something and appropriating it, and in the Comme des Garçons case, it’s evidenced by the fact that those white models looked ridiculous walking around in hairstyles that weren’t meant for them.
If the inspiration behind the hair the hair truly were pharos of Egypt, D’ys needs to immediately make contact with the other side and find out how to apologize to those men too, because the white boys on that runway looked less like proud rulers and more like they just hopped off a Carnival Cruise and are ready to prove to the class they just got back from vacation with their new braids. Cornrows are beautiful, what D’ys created, is a mess.