Year after year, spring collections bring us florals, pops of pastel, and carefree hair along with their designs. But now Chanel’s Spring/Summer 2017 presentation has us wondering: Could Bantu knots and cornrows be the new normal?
The vision of the latest campaign, featuring model Arizona Muse shot by Karl Lagerfeld, was referred to in a press release as a “play with contrasts as he captures the metamorphosis of a contemporary creature, one minute a pop Lolita, the next a cyber punk.”
But while some may see the hairstyle as an inspirational fashion statement, others around the world have had to protest just to have the right to wear the same look to school. That double standard begs the question: Are such designers showing cultural appreciation, or are they culturally appropriating for profit?
During the Marc Jacobs SS17 show, the question of cultural appropriation also came up as the designer sent white models down the runway wearing multicolor-dyed faux dreadlocks. The hair look created a firestorm of criticism on social media, and Jacobs only made escalated the matter when he responded with a tweet noting, “…funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair.”
There were also sightings of Bantu knots at Valentino’s SS15 show, where hairstylist Guido Palau’s inspiration was apparently a “very girlie, punky vibe.” But there have been many other earlier moments where culturally appropriated hairstyles were at the forefront of “inspiration,” including from Chanel and DKNY:
Whether it’s giving credit when credit is due or, at the bare minimum, casting more models of color in these high-end ad campaigns, designers are going to have to switch up their routines soon. Otherwise, things could get real ugly.
But New York Fashion week isn’t until February — which should be more than enough time to pull it together, folks.