News by Madeleine Coffey
Katy Perry Collections and Gucci have both been forced to remove items from their recent collections after being accused of using blackface in designs.
Blackface is a centuries-old act that saw white performers paint their faces black to mock enslaved Africans. Since then, the issue, and subsequent debate, of blackface has evolved, and the fashion industry has failed to keep out of such controversy.
For pop star Katy Perry, the condemned designs – blue eyes and red lips on black leather loafers – that were “envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism”, states Katy, caused outrage among some customers and were “immediately removed” from the line. Perry is no stranger to raciallyfuelled controversy, often accused of cultural appropriation (deemed by many to be a less visible, though similarly offensive, version of blackface). The pop-star stated in 2017: “I’ve made several mistakes…I won’t ever understand, but I can try and educate myself and that’s what I’m trying to do along the way.”
For Gucci, the item removed from its new collection was a black balaclava-style jumper that features a pull-up neck with a cutout mouth surrounded by oversized red lips. The £688 jumper caused an online outcry, prompting swift removal of the product and an extensive apology from both the designer and CEO of Gucci who went on to take “full accountability” for the “unintentional effects”.
While their apologies were accepted by many, others have accused both brands of insincerity and unforgivable ignorance – some going as far to suggest that these incidents were “on purpose just to spark the controversy” (Fashion designer, Suril Patel).