Marc Jacobs launched his Spring/Summer 2017 collection at New York Fashion Week with a bang.
The star-studded catwalk featured Gigi and Bella Hadid, Irina Shayk, Karlie Kloss, Stella Maxwell, Kendall Jenner, Jourdan Dunn and Taylor Hill; in pieces that were apparently inspired by steampunk and rave culture. We saw short-shorts, sugary pastel prints, heavy embroidery, and metallic trench coats.
Oh, and those rainbow-coloured dreadlocks.
It’s all anyone can talk about today, fashion folk or otherwise. Silly Marc Jacobs and those dreadlocks.
Almost immediately after pictures from the show went live, the voices of the internet rose from a quiet murmur into a frenzy. People were outraged.
It was “racist”, they shouted, “cultural appropriation at it’s worst”! “Dreadlocks are inexplicably linked to black culture, and putting them on the heads of white models is nothing short of ignorant! Boycott Marc Jacobs!”
Media commentators pulled awkwardly at their collars and wondered what to say. Fashion people looked at political people looked at celebrity people and they all kind of shrugged their shoulders. Damned if you comment, damned if don’t.
But before anyone could approach the topic in a thoughtful and sensitive manner, Marc Jacobs burst forward to make a statement of his own.
Oh boy. Bad idea, mate.
Jacobs took to his personal Instagram page to reply to the growing list of angry comments left underneath one of his images from the show.
“…all who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin colour wearing their hair in any particular style or manner – funny how you don’t criticise women of colour for straightening their hair.
“I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see colour or race – I see people. I’m sorry to read that so many people are so narrow minded…love is the answer. Appreciation of all and inspiration from anywhere is a beautiful thing. Think about it.” – Marc Jacobs.
And so the situation became much, much worse.
“…we out here dying & being criticized for our clothes, hairstyles, etc. but when y’all do it, it’s stylish & everyone wants to do it,” wrote one IG user.
“Who said that culture is shared though? Did I miss the white people’s meeting? Nah fam. It’s not to be shared. Culture is not a costume. You think it’s ok to wear certain hairstyles but wearing a hijab isn’t ok? What about a native american headdress? They belong to someone’s culture,” said another.
At this stage, the stylist behind the dreadlocks, celebrity hairdresser Guido Palau, stepped in to offer his explanation on the inspiration behind the ‘dos.
“We also looked at different movements like rave culture, club kids, acid house, travelers, Boy George, Marilyn, and all sorts of things. He also really liked the idea of the volume in the hair—that’s where it all came from.
But that’s what’s so interesting about Marc—he takes something that is so street and raw and then he looks at the idea of proportion, the idea of the color, the kind of girl.”
No mention of black culture. Hmm.
Marc retorted with two more Instagram posts – PUT DOWN THE PHONE, MARC – re-posting two articles in his defence, one from The Washington Post, and one from Time.
Unsurprisingly, this only fanned the flames.