another day another white own company using racist imagery.
Drawing inspiration from their native home of Sicily has been a long running theme for Dolce & Gabbana and their spring/summer collections have become known for vibrant, vintage-inspired prints and kitsch accessories. Last year they sent pasta and aubergine-shaped earrings down the runway, so it would only be fitting for them to match it with something equally as wacky this year. And what’s wackier than a racist caricature of a black woman dangling from your earlobes? Aren’t they adorable? Oh, and there’s a dress to match too, so you can go for the full clueless colonial look if you want to.
The earrings are reminiscent of Blackamoor statues that can be found in Italy, but more recognisably to non-Italians, Aunt Jemima dolls. That’s the same Aunt Jemima that, initially conceived as part of a minstrel show, became an image that romanticised slavery and plantation life. There’s no denying they’re offensive. But what’s perhaps even more shocking is that no one highlighted this before the show. From the production to the fitting, was there really no one to point this out before they hit the catwalk?
Some might argue that they’re harmless, even cute, but there’s nothing cute about two white men selling minstrel earrings to a majority non-black audience. There wasn’t a single black model in Dolce & Gabbana’s show, and it’s hard not to be appalled by the transparent exoticism in sending the only black faces down the runway in the form of earrings. Pandering to a long-gone era is hardly surprising in 2012, when people can’t even take a photo of a baby without sticking a “vintage” sepia filter on top. Bygone eras and cultures are constantly drawn on by fashion designers to re-appropriate on a whim. But when you’re explicitly pandering to such a shameful era of western racism and colonialism, it’s time to move on to the future.
Ikea ‘sorry’ for erasing women in Saudi book
Swedish furniture giant Ikea has apologized for removing all the women from their Saudi Arabian catalogue, following public outrage in Sweden including the EU minister slamming the action as “medieval”.
In the Saudi version of Ikea’s annual furniture booklet, all the women who appear in the catalogue published in other countries have been removed via photo retouching.
The altered images caused a stir when revealed in Swedish media, prompting an apology from Ikea’s head office in Sweden.
“We apologize and understand that people are upset,” said Ulrika Englesson Sandman, a spokeswoman for the Inter IKEA Systems, which owns the Ikea trademark and concept, to the Expressen newspaper.
“This is really unfortunate. We have been in contact with Saudi Arabia to discuss this issue. It should be possible to balance Ikea’s values so that we don’t discriminate people. At the same time, we try to adapt to the cultures and the legislation that are there,” she told Sveriges Radio (SR).
The removal of the women, including a young girl who was pictured studying at her desk, has prompted a strong response from many prominent women in Sweden:
“You can’t remove or airbrush women out of reality. If Saudi Arabia does not allow women to be seen or heard, or to work, they are letting half their intellectual capital go to waste,” Swedish minister for trade, Ewa Björling, said in a statement.
“It’s impossible to retouch women out of reality,” she told the Metro newspaper.
Her sentiment was echoed by Sweden’s European Union Minister Birgitta Ohlsson, who branded the incident “medieval” on the social networking site Twitter.
Even the image of a female designer who helped design the company’s “PS” line of home furnishings has been removed from the Saudi catalogues.
Saudi Arabia applies strict rules of gender segregation, banning women from driving and requiring them to have permission from a male guardian before travelling or receiving medical care.
Ikea’s Saudi franchise partner currently operates three stores in the country, where it has seen “double digit” yearly growth over the past five years, according to its website.