The latest show by fashion designer Marc Jacobs has stirred up racial controversy on social media.
His New York Fashion Week program used predominately white models adorned with multicolored wool dreadlocks, and he is being accused of cultural appropriation as a result, reports the Daily Mail.
Cultural appropriation is defined by Fordham University law professor Susan Scafidi, as reported by About.com:
Taking intellectual property, traditional knowledge, cultural expressions, or artifacts from someone else's culture without permission. This can include unauthorized use of another culture's dance, dress, music, language, folklore, cuisine, traditional medicine, religious symbols, etc. It's most likely to be harmful when the source community is a minority group that has been oppressed or exploited in other ways or when the object of appropriation is particularly sensitive, e.g. sacred objects.
A sampling of social media comments gives a flavor of the reaction:
Dreadlocks are part of black culture, something you have no business trying to sell or appropriate. Do better.
Dreadlocks and yet no black models. Smh.
Y'all made your models wear dreadlocks but only use two black models? Bye.
Why does Marc Jacobs think it's okay to put dreadlocks on white people?
Dreadlocks look better on blacks, give it up white people.
In fact, the dreadlocks hairstyle has been adopted by many cultures, past and present, including by white people in the West, notes the Daily Mail. According to Marc Jacobs, the use of dreadlocks in this fashion show was inspired not by black culture, but rather by rave culture, London 1980s fashion and Japanese Harajuku girls.
Stylist Guido Palau said he draws from every culture for inspiration. “Style comes from clashing things. It's always been there -- if you're creative, if you make food, music, and fashion, whatever, you're inspired by everything,” he explained. “It's not homogeneous. Different cultures mix all the time. You see it on the street. People don't dress head-to-toe in just one way.”
He got the dreadlocks from Jena Counts, who sells her creations under the name Dreadlocks by Jena. She has been “dying wool hair extensions in the small town of Palataka, [Florida], for about one year."
She sells her custom rainbow-colored creations on Etsy.