Burberry Agrees 'Suicide isn't fashion', Apologizes For Parading Lynching Noose Down Runway

Burberry apologizes for noose hoodie.jpg

Add another “what were they thinking!!!” designer must-have to your Fall 2019 luxury shopping list. Insisting that the design was inspired by a marine theme that ran throughout the entire collection, Burberry agrees that their noose is easily understood as making both suicide and lynching fashionable. Given everything that’s happening around Gucci and Prada’s wild-side walk with blackface, it’s pretty incredible that these mishaps keep happening.

"We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection," Marco Gobbetti, Burberry chief executive officer, said in a statement provided to CNN.

The design was criticized by model Liz Kennedy, who wore it on the runway and claims that her expressed concerns about the noose were dismissed. Even wearing it during the show potentially put Kennedy in her own tough spot with social media. It was Kennedy who posted this message to Burberry on her Instagram:

@burberry@riccardotisci17Suicide is not fashion. It is not glamorous nor edgy and since this show is dedicated to the youth expressing their voice, here I go. Riccardo Tisci and everyone at Burberry it is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway. How could anyone overlook this and think it would be okay to do this especially in a line dedicated to young girls and youth. The impressionable youth. Not to mention the rising suicide rates world wide. Let’s not forget about the horrifying history of lynching either. There are hundreds of ways to tie a rope and they chose to tie it like a noose completely ignoring the fact that it was hanging around a neck. A massive brand like Burberry who is typically considered commercial and classy should not have overlooked such an obvious resemblance. I left my fitting extremely triggered after seeing this look (even though I did not wear it myself). Feeling as though I was right back where I was when I was going through an experience with suicide in my family. Also to add in they briefly hung one from the ceiling (trying to figure out the knot) and were laughing about it in the dressing room. I had asked to speak to someone about it but the only thing I was told to do was to write a letter. I had a brief conversation with someone but all that it entailed was “it’s fashion. Nobody cares about what’s going on in your personal life so just keep it to yourself” well I’m sorry but this is an issue bigger than myself. The issue is not about me being upset, there is a bigger picture here of what fashion turns a blind eye to or does to gain publicity. A look so ignorantly put together and a situation so poorly handled. I am ashamed to have been apart of the show.#burberry. I did not post this to disrespect the designer or the brand but to simply express an issue I feel very passionate about.

Antonis Kousoulis, associate director of research at The UK's Mental Health Foundation, was also critical of the noose design concept, saying the incident demonstrated the need for fashion houses to examine their creative processes.

"It is disappointing to see this representation in our day and age considering how much ground we have covered in mental health in recent years," Kousoulis said.

"I was glad to hear that the fashion house apologized and pulled the item, but, more generally, I would like to see more diversity in the creative process," Kousoulis added. "Highly influential global brands like Burberry certainly have a role to play in giving a voice to diverse views, respecting people with lived experience, and being role models."

The call for more diversity in the creative process is echoed by new developments at both Prada and Gucci to insure that such overtly historically racist references be at least addressed within the design team. These teams should be multicultural under the best of circumstances. But as a design head myself, it’s impossible for me to understand how white people live such culturally isolated, uninformed lives about race that they can’t see what is a blaring, racist bugle horn blaring before my eyes. These incidents would never have happened on my watch at Victoria’s Secret. ~ Anne

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

Gucci blackface sweater.jpg

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

Gucci sweater pulled.jpg

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."

minstrel_posterbillyvanware_edit_2.jpg

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.

images.jpg

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.

Spike Lee no Prada or Gucci.jpeg

Related: