Fashion Fail: Dolce & Gabbana Collection Embraces “Slave Culture,” But Not Black Models?
When a few photographs from Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring/Summer 2013 Collection show at Milan Fashion Week popped up in my Pinterest on Monday, I scrolled right past them. I wasn’t inspired enough to re-pin them and couldn’t see them well enough to spot anything alarming, so I didn’t see this shit-storm coming.
Maybe it’s the pale models who are adorned in burlap-sack dresses and dangling severed head earrings that display images of dark-skinned African women… proving that despite the fact that bookings of Black models has nearly doubled in four years, high fashion embraces Blacks as motifs to be fetishized — not to hire.
Going in, particularly on the earrings, Gloss described them as “busts of black women with exaggerated red lips, wearing bright turbans embellished with fruit (in the style of traditional blackamoors).”
Always one to drop a knowledge bomb or two during these situations, writer Mikki Kendall breaks it down like this:
blackamoor (plural blackamoors)
- (degrading) A person with dark skin, especially (but not necessarily) one from northern Africa [quotations ▼]
- a blackamoor slave, a blackamoor servant; and hence any slave, servant, inferior, or child [quotations ▼]
- (heraldry) a stylized Negro Argent, three blackamoors’ heads couped sable, capped or, fretty gules.
So, this is from Dolce & Gabbana’s 2013 collection. Let’s talk about the decision to re-purpose the racist imagery of the past as fashion for the future! While we’re talking about that, let’s also talk about the process from conception to execution for a collection which only images of black people as servants, and yet no actual black models were present on the runway.
What does that thought process look like & how exactly will people try to spin this as harmless? Oh right, I’m certain any references to actual history will be met with the insistence that things are different now, and it just happens that the only black faces in this collection belong to images of slaves.
So now we ask, if the clothing was on Black models, would it be okay? And without the intent of racism, is it racist?