Katy Perry is reportedly removing two shoe styles from her eponymous footwear collection from shelves following blackface concerns.
TMZ first reported that the singer would be removing the Ora Face Block Heel and the Rue Face Slip On Loafers (each priced at $129) from retailers like Dillards and Walmart after shoppers complained of the black colorways' resemblance to blackface. (The shoe also comes in a beige colorway.) A representative to Perry issued the following statement to InStyle on behalf of the singer and Global Brands Group:
"The Rue and The Ora were part of a collection that was released last summer in 9 different colorways (black, blue, gold, graphite, lead, nude, pink, red, silver) and envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism. I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface. Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them from Katy Perry Collections."
Katy Perry 'Blackface' Shoe to Be Pulled from Shelves— Kim Crayton ???? ????????#causeascene (@KimCrayton1) February 11, 2019
Ok, can we just make this a rule that ANY product, service or person that is NOT Black will NOT create, promote or apply any combination of BLACK + FACE
Can we just make this a thing#causeascenehttps://t.co/5fo3wMKgJppic.twitter.com/LRFw2bW9BC
The comparison comes days after the fashion world's latest blackface scandal, when Gucci came under fire for selling an $890 sweater with large red lips that also resembled the derogatroy blackface makeup. The fashion brand has since issued an apology for the mask and removed the product from shelves.
Harlem-based designer Dapper Dan, who had a collaboration with the Italian design house, issued his own statement in which he pledged to hold Gucci's team accountable for their actions. "I am a Black man before I am a brand," he tweeted on Monday. "There cannot be inclusivity without accountability. I will hold everyone accountable."
Prada, too, faced accusations of racism after a shopper noticed the "Pradamalia" trinket in a store window display in New York bore a strong likeness to blackface. The Italian fashsion house also issued an apology and pledged to diversify its staff in an effort to be more conscious of its product's appearance.
Of course, fashion is hardly the only place where blackface is making waves. Earlier this month, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam admitted to dressing up in blackface after photos from his college yearbook of two men — one dressed in blackface, the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe — surfaced. He first apologized for the image, then denied being in it at all, before admitting that he had dressed in blackface for a Michael Jackson costume.
A source told TMZ that Perry never intended the shoes to be offensive or racist, but decided to pull the shoes "in order to be respectful and sensitive."
Perry has previously been accused of appropriating culture. In 2017 she apologized for her decision to wear cornrows in her "This Is How We Do" music video, as well as for her costume choice for the 2013 American Music Awards, where she dressed as a geisha.
"I didn’t know that I did it wrong until I heard people saying that I did it wrong," she said. "It takes someone to say, out of compassion, out of love, ‘Hey, this is what the origin is’.”
UPDATED Feb. 12, 2019, 9:15 a.m.: This story has been updated with a statement from Perry's rep.