Marc Jacobs responds to runway dreadlocks backlash

The designer is accused of cultural appropriation, writes "I don't see colour or race – I see people"

By Andrea Tim | Published: 19 Sep 2016

Jacobs' dreadlocks
Photo: Marc Jacobs

Marc Jacobs' models, including Irina Shayk, Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Bella Hadid, Jourdan Dunn, Karlie Kloss and Adriana Lima, all wore colourful wool dreadlocks for the SS17 runway show. The hair pieces were custom-made by Florida-based Jena Counts, who sells her work on Etsy.

Not surprisingly, the look sparked a heated debate about whether Jacobs had been appropriating black culture. Hair stylist Guido Palau had earlier explained that the choice to use dreadlocks for the show was inspired by Lana Wachowski, "ravers, acid house, travellers, Boy George, Marilyn [the singer, a.k.a. Peter Robinson] in the '80s, Harajuku girls."


@bellahadid and @kendalljenner backstage at our Spring '17 show ⭐️ #MJSS17

A photo posted by Marc Jacobs (@marcjacobs) on

Some were not fazed by the display, praising Jacobs for a remarkable collection, while other accused him of cultural appropriation.

The designer himself commented on a post on his brand's official Instagram page: "@radical.lizeth @emmelephant and 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."

The debate went on afterwards, without the brand releasing any official statement about the dreadlocks. Meanwhile, Jacobs highlighted a couple of articles – from Time and The Washington Post – about how ridiculous it was that people were arguing over a 'stolen' hairstyle rather than focus on more pressing matters regarding racial prejudice and discrimination.

"I have read all your comments and I thank you for expressing your feelings," the designer wrote on his personal Instagram account. I apologise for the lack of sensitivity unintentionally expressed by my brevity. I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself though art, clothes, words, hair, music...EVERYTHING. Of course I do "see" colour but I DO NOT discriminate. THAT IS A FACT!"

"Please continue to express your feelings freely but do it kindly. Nothing is gained from spreading hate by name calling and bullying," he added.

Related: Marc Jacobs SS17
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