Gucci Chief Executive Marco Bizzarri Meeting With Dapper Dan Over Blackface Sweater Disaster

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French billionaire François-Henri Pinault, chief executive and controlling shareholder of Gucci parent Kering SA, said that the Italian luxury brand doesn’t have teams to monitor designs and marketing materials for concepts that are offensive to African-Americans.

Personally, as a white woman, I take issue with that statement, because both the Gucci sweater and Prada trinket are racist to me, too. If a black person never said one word, I would find them racist, based on what went through my mind on seeing both designs. Pinault stated that teams do exist to monitor designs that might negatively impact Asians — which might be a reason for Pinault to just stop talking now.

Forgive me for being blunt, but the French were the third largest slave traders, behind the Portuguese and British, achieving that dubious honor with the staggering numbers of Africans delivered to Saint-Dominigue (Haiti) in the late eighteenth century. It’s safe to say that the French had a pretty cozy relationship with America’s slaveholders — the backdrop of the sensitivity of black and white Americans alike to obvious blackface references on today’s clothes.

 "Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper ... ,” the brand said in a statement. “We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected and at the forefront of every decision we make. We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond."

It’s reasonable to assert that today’s young designers can’t be expected to be attuned to every cultural sensitivity worldwide, and I imagine that not all of them are fully-apprised of the involvement of Europe in the transport and sale of captured Africans to America. My point is that the Gucci and Prada controversies are not another example of what I feel is a gross oversensitivity to topics of cultural appropriation in online popular culture. Blackface sensitivity is not hypersensitivity. It’s a recognition of racism when we see it.

“We didn’t understand the sensitivities of the African-American community, which is reflected in that mistake,” Mr. Pinault told reporters at Kering’s headquarters. “We can’t be content with saying we’re sorry.”

Gucci Meeting With Dapper Dan

Dapper Dan by Gabriela Celeste  for GQ Style

Dapper Dan by Gabriela Celeste for GQ Style

Gucci Chief Executive Marco Bizzarri is planning to meet with Dapper Dan and other African-American leaders during a trip to New York this week to discuss the sweater debacle. “"I am a Black man before I am a brand," he wrote. “Another fashion house has gotten it outrageously wrong,” Dapper Dan said in an Instagram post. “There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult.”

The renowned Harlen fashon designer and tailor originally gained fame knocking off Guuci’s logo in the ‘80s and ‘90s, before finding itself in the drivers seat when Alessandro Michele knocked off one of Dapper Dan’s designs in his own 2018 Resort collection. The two men signed a peace treaty with Dapper Dan collaborating with Gucci on a vintage hip-hop-inspired capsule collection. Then Kering stepped in to underwrite Dap’s new studio and atelier in Harlem, while making him the face of a special tailoring campaign. Gucci has also underwritten several art events celebrating black culture in Harlem and around New York.

As the former head of product development and fashion director for Victoria’s Secret, I recommend that Gucci load up a corporate jet with design talent and head for Washington, DC and a trip to the African American Museum of African American History and Culture. This will give them a complete understanding of the sensitivity of black face in America to progressives of every skin color.

Gucci Pulls $900 Balaciava Sweater Labeled Racist Blackface | Spike Lee Launches Gucci-Prada Boycott

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Gucci has apologized after social media voices said that its $900 balaclava sweater resembled blackface. The sweater has been removed from Gucci stores and online.

In a Twitter post on Wednesday, the brand said it "deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper." It then added to the post:

"We can confirm that the item has been immediately removed from our online store and all physical stores.

"We are fully committed to increasing diversity throughout our organization and turning this incident into a powerful learning moment for the Gucci team and beyond."

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Blackface — the act of non-black people wearing makeup to try to look black — is front and center in American politics, with the VA Democratic governor Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring both admitting to having dressed up to impersonate a black person. Blackface has a racist history in the United States. It was used in minstrel shows, movies, and other forms of entertainment that sought to dehumanize African-Americans and exclude them from the entertainment industry. In an extension of the blackface issue, I learned today that US Secretary of Energy and former Governor of Texas Rick Perry’s family ranch is named Niggerhead.

In the 19th century, actors caricatured black slaves, wearing burnt cork or shoe polish on their faces to make themselves look "black." The performances "characterized blacks as lazy, ignorant, superstitious, hyper-sexual, and prone to thievery and cowardice," according to the National Museum of African-American History & Culture.

Our liberal American nerves are just fried over this racist nonsense in America. Social media posts arguing that there was no need to put red lips on the Gucci sweater — unless the intention was to create a blackface fashion statement — if one desired — resonate. AOC has a history of pushing back on what we feel is an absurd level of political correctness in our culture and fashion world. But sweaters like the Gucci one or Prada’s red lips, monkey trinket debacle from the Christmas holidays go too far.

If the minute I look at the item — as a very grownup New York white woman from Minnesota — I see blackface, trust me, the item is blackface and is put together by a design team that is culturally unaware. Gucci finances Dapper Dan, in all fairness, and is actively involved in promoting black artists. Prada’s racial history is definitely not great, but the brand has been committed to doing better in using black models both on the runway and in Prada ads.

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Meanwhile, Director Spike Lee, nominated for an Oscar for his movie ‘BlacKkKlansman announced on Twitter today that he is boycotting both Prada and Gucci. Spike Lee shares a candid interview with Politico: ‘I Don’t Have the Answer’ : Spike Lee on Race in Trump’s America.

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