Lightning-Fast Forgiveness, Racism, & Dsquared2

Fashion (and really, the world in general when it comes to the wayward ways of errant men) has a tendency to sort of wrist-slap designers when they screw up, and then lavish them with praise the second they correct their course.

Take, for example, London-based and Canadian-born designers Dsquared2.

For the Fall 2015 season Dsqaured2 showed a highly-offensive collection that made waves for its extreme cultural appropriation and general racism:


Above: from the racist Fall 2015 collection of Dsquared2.

Then, they rather repeated this mistake with their Fall 2016 collection, sending models down the catwalk with “Victorian Samurai” outfits. The collection got hardly any press, good or bad. Perhaps the world was just tired of Dsquared2’s continual, lazy, racist designs.


Above: The Fall 2016 Dsquared2 collection featuring “Victorian Samurai” looks.

The tides turned for Dsquared2 with their recent Spring 2017 collection, which was praised and lauded by fashion reporters. In other words, the disgrace period for Dsquared2 was all too brief, and the fashion world quick to forgive some pretty serious offenses.


Above: Dsquared2 Spring 2017

While the collection was pretty fun (pictured above), it’s dissapointing because it proves that they can design a collection that is not racist, but they have clearly chosen not to for previous seasons. Sigh, #whiteprivelege in fashion, amiright?



BONUS: More on Dsquared2’s super-racist Fall 2015 collection

Dsquared² x First Nations Appropriation at Milan Fashion Week

Dsquared²’s Super-Racist Fall 2015 Collection Featured in Canadian Fashion Magazines

How Distasteful: The Racist Dsquared² Collection Makes Another Appearance in a Canadian Fashion Magazine

Elle Canada’s 2016 Model Search Lacking Diversity


Elle Canada recently celebrated its 15th birthday! While this magazine does have a lot of quality reporting, and is arguably one of the most feminist fashion magazines on the market, the racial diversity within its pages is often lacking. In 2015, for example, the majority (seven, to be precise) of issues Elle Canada put on newsstands were Whiteout Issues.

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A new misstep from Elle Canada is the model search they are conducting. As you can see from the scans here, all of the top five finalists of the competition are white.

ElleCanada_ModelSearch_May2016 2

Not surprising, mostly just really disappointing–these models reflect a part of Canada, not all of it.

Why are the Majority of Top Fall 2016 RTW Shows by Men?


If you go over the to the Vogue Runway page for the Fall 2016 Ready to Wear Shows, you’ll be greeted by a banner that advertises the “Top Shows”. Something that immediately caught my eye was that the vast majority of the collections were designed by men.

Now, to be fair, there are a few things I’m unsure of when looking at the page:

  1. I don’t know if “Top Shows” is determined by viewer hits on the site OR if the shows are ranked by the editorial staff for the site
  2. The top shows might not necessarily be ranked the very best moving left to right as I’m assuming

Regardless, if we take it at face value: of the ten collections noted as “Top Shows,” only three were designed by women. Marni and Prada are entirely the efforts of female designers, and over at Valentino the credits are split between Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli.

Top Shows/Labels and their Designer:

  1. Lous Vuitton – Nicolas Ghesquière
  2. Valentino- Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli
  3. Chanel- Karl Lagerfeld
  4. Saint Laurent- Hedi Slimane
  5. Balenciaga-  Demna Gvasalia
  6. Loewe- Jonathan Anderson
  7. Balmain- Olivier Rousteing
  8. Dolce & Gabbana- Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce
  9. Marni- Consuelo Castiglioni
  10. Prada -Miuccia Prada

Above: Karl Lagerfeld with models wearing his Fall 2016 collection. Image here.

This is rather troubling because, by and large, societies tend to think of fashion as a stereotypical women’s thing. After all, nearly all the models on the runway are women, and the designs on the catwalk are primarily considered to be for self-identified women.

Despite this, you can see above that the most-lauded design houses are run by men. From behind the seams scenes, the people determining what should be worn on women’s bodies are men. No doubt these top male designers out-earn their female counterparts, and get the bulk of credit for shaping fashion history.


Above: Miuccia Prada takes a bow after her Fall 2016 show.

Just go to any fashion website or read any fashion magazine, and you’ll see that for all the thousands of articles run on Nicolas Ghesquière every year, a handful will also be written about Conseulo Castiglioni. It’s the typical, sad, sexist truth about our societies–be it writers, filmmakers, artists, musicians, and even fashion designers–we tend to focus on the work and achievements of men.

So, what’s to be done? For one, help change the focus and shift the conversation. At The Closet Feminist, we only pin runway shows that have a female head designer for that season. Read books by women. Listen to music by women. Appreciate art by women. Big steps and baby steps will get us there.

Festival Style 2016: On-trend vs. Offensive


Image above found here

There’s folksy, and then there’s offensive. Denim cut-offs, fringe crop tops, boho braids, Flash Tattoos–sure. But somewhere along the way, the ubiquitous flower crown gave way to other cranial adornments, with attendees sporting bindis (Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Sarah Hyland and Vanessa Hudgens) and feathered headdresses (Poppy Delevingne and Vanessa Hudgens, again).

Appropriation shamers abound online, waking society p to how seriously uncool it is to perpetuate stereotypes and disrespect marginalized cultures through fashion. You can’t just glitter up, toss on a headdress and waltz into Osheaga anymore.

Image above found here.

Literally. The Montreal music festival banned the aboriginal war bonnets out of respect for First Nations people last year. Headdresses are also a no go at Bass Coast in Merritt, B.C., the Edmonton Folk Music Festival and WayHome in Oro-Medonte, Ont.

Us Canucks are mostly solo in our efforts, though. Aside from England’s Glastonbury, which no longer permits the sale of headdresses on its grounds, most of the world’s top multi-day music gatherings have yet to roll out official dress-code policies that prohibit such flippant costuming.

  • from “In Full Loom” by Lauren O’Neil in Flare May 2016

Homage vs. Outright Racism in Fashion: The Case of the Maison Kitsuné Pre-Fall 2016 Collection


I’d like to make a distinction between an homage or the general idea of “taking inspiration from” versus racism and cultural appropriation in fashion.

Take the case of the recently-released Pre-Fall 2016 collection of Maison Kitsuné, a design house helmed by Gildas Loaëc. According to Vogue Runway reviewer Amy Verner, the collection is inspired by Hayao Miyazaki’s film The Wind Rises:

“Maison Kitsuné’s Pre-Fall and men’s collections once again shared the same source material: Hayao Miyazaki’s film The Wind Rises. It’s a resourceful tactic that also presents well in stores, especially when couples decide they want matching Mount Fuji sweaters.”

Amazing/awesome/totally fantastic idea right? Except….no. Maison Kitsuné’s execution of this “inspiration” was laughable at best, and plain racist at worst.

maison-kitsune-pre-fall-2016-lookbook-04 maison-kitsune-pre-fall-2016-lookbook-22 maison-kitsune-pre-fall-2016-lookbook-11

The Pre-Fall lookbook had the model of choice–a white woman–sporting bright dots of pink blush no doubt winking at both the stylized illustrations of anime and Geisha makeup whilst posing in camouflage, sweaters festooned by prints of Mt. Fuji, and even geta. She’s seen waving about the Japanese flag, flying toy airplanes with blissful naiveté, and painting pictures of apparently nothing at all.

There are two things particularly egregious about this Maison Kitsuné collection.


First, they actually did manage to book an Asian model for their Pre-Fall 2016 Men‘s collection lookbook–so why not for the women’s lookbook? Also, as you can see, he’s not sporting caricatured makeup like the model in the woman’s lookbook.


Secondly, we’ve seen very strong collections inspired by anime, Japanese culture, and Miyazaki’s work specifically. I suggested that the Comme des Garçons Spring ’16 collection was inspired by Howl’s Moving Castle, and there is nary a wooden sandal or grossly overused and abused Japanese art print in sight. As such, this collection is just plain l-a-z-y and kinda gross to be honest.


The worst part is, is I actually like Maison Kitsuné designs usually. Take the look from their Fall 2014 collection above. This is pretty much what I wear every day, especially the white tights (no for real, this is actually my uniform). To add insult to injury, the Fall 2014 collection above was modeled by Yumi Lambert–who is actually of Japanese descent. So it’s not even like Maison Kitsuné could claim the ignorance of  not knowing any Japanese or Asian models….


Really though, looking at this Maison Kitsuné collection, you can see how garrish, surface-level, and cheaply stereotypical it is compared to collections arguably based on a similar concept that are true works of art. Gildas Loaëc shame on you–quit while you’re really not ahead, and go learn from a master like Rei Kawakubo.


Did the SP 16 Comme des Garçons collection remind you of Howl’s Moving Castle, Too?

Valentino’s Pre-Fall 2016 Collection Had An Uncomfortable Amount of “Borrowing”

Olympia Le-Tan’s Spring 2016 Show x Japanese Cultural Appropriation

I’m Ready for a New Conversation on Fashion & Cultural Appropriation.



All pictures from Vogue Runway here, here, and here.





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