Marc Jacobs Picked Up the ‘No Chill’ Styling Torch From DSquared2
Everyone is going off on the styling and casting in Marc Jacobs’ latest ready-to-wear collection and by going off I mean dragging to filth.
Although the pieces in the collection felt like an appropriate extension of his Fall/Winter 2016 RTW show, the incorporation of messy, white college girl dreadlocks on a heavily white cast of models was a ridiculously obvious no-no.
I’m a woman of color who is surrounded by and lives off of a diet of fashion and art history. To me, this slip-up echoed the drama that was Dsquared2’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection.
Of course, the horribly titled collection, “Dsquaw,” by the Canadian design duo, was actually quite gorgeous. The pieces were impeccably crafted, and cohesive in style and presentation.
But the further into the collection I looked the more I noticed the general lack of models of color, the obvious inspiration and appropriation of Northern Native American pattern and style, and the severe darkening of models’ skin.
As if that wasn’t enough of a vibe-kill, I immediately went to research more on this collection. Picture me googling “did Dsquared2 mean to be racist?” What I found was criticism from all around and an explanation of the collection’s inspiration. Naturally, this explanation was also riddled with stereotypical mysticism and romanticism and generally shitty.
This collection was not a creolization of idea and style, but a bastardization. There was no active discussion between Dsquared2’s team and Indigenous designers. Nothing was mutual and the work put into this collection only contributed to the oppression of Indigenous people who inspired their efforts.
When you take style notes and inspiration from communities of color and actively don’t employ that community, then your work is uninformed. Appropriation isn’t just taking something, it’s the erasure of ideas and history.
Jacobs’ most recent show has not (yet) fallen into quite the shit storm Dsquared2’s show deserved to be in. But from Jacobs’ response/nonapology which really only dug him in deeper, don’t be surprised if this shit gets ugly.
I don’t personally want anything from Marc Jacobs myself. What I want is for him, the makeup artists, the hairstylists, the dressers, the interns, the casting directors, and the brand to be conscious of what their work perpetuates.
Can a collection or a style be problematic and beautiful? Of course. People are complicated and so is life (thus so is fashion). So if we’re gonna take inspiration from other cultures, we’ve got to have real conversations on respecting boundaries and histories.