Normally I start letters off with a positive and celebratory compliment of your work, but let’s cut to the chase. I’m tired of you using and rarely acknowledging the black culture you so often borrow from. When I saw photos from your latest Spring 2017 collection featuring models with faux locs, I must admit I immediately gave you the side eye. I thought, hmm maybe Marc is making a political statement or paying homage to Rastafarian and black cultures. Maybe he enlisted the help of hairstylist Dr. Kari Williams, known for creating goddess faux locs on celebs like Meagan Good, Tyra Banks, and most recently Retina Wesley from OWN’s Queen Sugar series. Maybe you were inspired by Zendaya’s locs at the 2015 Oscars that Guiliana Rancic ridiculed saying “Like I feel like she smells like patchouli oil. Or, weed.” I waited to hear your inspiration. When it finally came my animosity was justified.
Besides drawing from the style of recent Marc Jacobs campaign model Lara Wachoswki, head hairstylist Guido Palau said “We were also looking at other girls that were inspiring to Marc, and certain types of cultures, like rave culture, club culture, acid house, Boy George and Marilyn.”
Marc, where do you think ravers, club kids, and Boy George got their inspiration? And please watch your words. To add insult to injury, your hairstylist then goes on to say that you take something from the street and basically make it more refined and fashionable. That is a matter of opinion and not fact. Right there, your team who is not sprinkled with people of color assumes that somehow locs need a stamp of white approval. That locs on black folks are not good enough for high fashion.
When I thought the situation couldn’t get any worse, it did. You replied to criticism on your cultural appropriation in a recently deleted instagram comment that reads:
Dear sir, you are a repeat offender of black cultural appropriation. Oh, do you think we forgot about last year’s “mini buns” which are actually bantu knots that came down your runway. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you did not acknowledge then where the true inspiration originated, therefore I should not be surprised that you would not acknowledge it this go ’round. But here is where I draw the line: you insinuated that black women straightening our hair is also appropriation. Insert all the eye rolling, neck rolling, and clapbacks sent down from the spirits of my ancestors.
MARC JACOBS, don’t you dare. Your white privilege allows you to live in this delusional world where you either don’t understand or don’t want to admit you’re Columbusing our culture. In your mind you don’t need to pay us a homage. You don’t owe us any appreciation. Because of your white male privilege you think you are allowed to rape and pillage our style, attempt to repackage, and then claim it as your own. And when someone calls you out on your entitlement, you come at us with the hair straightening argument. Marc, you do realize that stems from this Eurocentric standard of beauty that has been pushed on people of color since the advent of slavery. From the Tignon laws of 18th and 19th century Louisiana to people of African descent now being discriminated against in the military, schools, and workplaces about our natural hair, we have been told that our beauty has to be covered up, lightened up, and straightened up to fit white standards of beauty. Don’t act like you don’t know that these policies were put in place to put us down.
Yes, you may have deleted the ill conceived comment, but the next time you decide to say something off the cuff, imagine an army of black people standing in formation. Imagine the looks of anger, disgust, and disappointment that flash across our faces in unity. Imagine the hair flips, the teeth sucking, and the folded arms. In the words of Beyoncé “Boy, bye!”
Don’t hate. Appreciate it.
*Cultural Appropriation in beauty and fashion will be a topic of discussion during the conversation series of Black Girl Beautiful, a unique beauty and shopping event in Los Angeles on October 15. Join the movement. Get your tickets by clicking here.