Early this week, at a fashion show in Paris, Japanese fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga displayed models wearing blackface. Not just some of his models; all of them.
And the world hasn’t batted an eye. The Anrealage Fashion Show has its share of weird, but this just takes the cake.
Kumihiko, who is the creative director of Anrealage—a Japanese label—wanted his show to be dark and mysterious.
So he sent his models to the runway wearing grim-looking black and gray clothes, blackface actually, every exposed part of their skin had blackface applied—and a meteor-looking (or are they afros?) layer on their heads. The result was models who resembled whites in blackface in early 20th century films.
Now, in his defence, Kunihiko isn’t a straight-out racist. He’s considered avant-garde and a much-needed breath of fresh air.
He is acclaimed in Japan and other parts of the word. Sadly, this seems to have made him a little ignorant of a little thing called racism.
Shocking as it is, this show is not the first time Kunihiko has tested the bounds of racism. Last year, he had all his models—white ones, mind you—apply black paint on their faces. The fact that he went a step further this year only shows that the leeway he’s got has made him a lot braver.
So what was the purpose of this borderline-racist excuse of a fashion show? The show was focused on light and dark. The fabric the models wore revealed a colorful printed texture which was only visible when exposed to ultraviolet light.
So, basically, the models were walking across the runway and getting their clothes beamed on. Not that racist, I think. However, Kunihiko’s passion for being dramatic turned what would be an interesting bit of originality into a fiasco that offends an entire race.
The worst thing about all this is that Kunihiko’s antics are actually inspiring other fashion designers. Last week, for instance, designer Claudio Cutugno also made his white models wear blackface during the Milan Fashion Week’s presentations for fall 2015.
The only difference between Claudio and Kunihiko is that Claudio’s models had glitter sprinkled on top of their blackface.
Unlike Kunihiko, he instantly drew criticism, and defended himself by claiming that his inspiration was from the artist Emilio Isgrò, who makes his art using bees.
Of all the excuses he could have thought of Elite fashion designers are daring, which is why they are acclaimed. But this… this is daringly racist and ignorant, and it’s a move that needs to die. Fast.