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

Stella Jean: “I want to create new and unexpected cultural messages”

The Fall 2016 Stella Jean collection (example below found here) made me a little nervous for reasons mentioned on The CF’s Pinterest. Still, I’m always inspired by her thoughtful, conscientious creative process and the politics that go into her designs. I read an interview with her from last year and it got me pondering and contemplating all over again.


And while being part of a multiracial family in Italy in the Eighties not only shaped me as a person, but also inspired my professional path, however, it has been neither simple nor painless.  Actually, my cultural background made it harder for me to find an identity. As I am the result of a mix of different cultures and races that could appear completely opposed, but I want to promote a sophisticated and alternative multiculturalism through fashion. Blending traditions that are so distant.  I want to create new and unexpected cultural messages. Fashion gives me ample space to maneuver and find a place where both of these cultures can coexist. This weak point has become both a strength and a fresh start.’

– Stella Jean in an interview with The Fashion Plate Magazine here

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

Covers & Content Annual Review 2015, Part 3: Flare

2015 is over and done with, so it’s time to look back on every issue printed this year by Canada’s three top fashion magazines: Elle Canada, Fashion, and Flare, to see how diverse they were overall and compared to last year. Our last magazine up for scrutiny is Flare!

See Part 1 of our annual review on Elle Canada here.

See Part 2 of our annual review on FASHION here.

For a review of the Covers & Content project by The Closet Feminist, please check out the FAQ page here.

Closet Feminist Terminology

Whiteout Issue: an issue of a fashion magazine where neither the cover star nor models booked/used for any of the major editorials are people of colour.

Token Diversity Spread: When a fashion magazine books/uses an ensemble of models, including some models of colour or models representing other minorities in the fashion world (i.e., plus size models or visibly older models), but are careful not to allow the minorities chosen to make up the majority of the spread or the majority of models chosen



2015 was not a good year for diversity in Flare. They managed to do the same amount of Whiteout Issues as they did last year (5), meaning that they are the only magazine of the three examined here not to improve their Whiteout Issue count.


Flare tied with Elle Canada for most cover stars of colour–5 each. However, it should be noted that the March cover of Flare featured an ensemble of five models, but only one of the models was a woman of colour, essentially making their cover a Token Diversity Spread.

And now we go month-by-month…


Gillian Jacobs was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial but it didn’t have any models (was just a accessories feature). Though there were no models in the editorial, I still count this as a Whiteout Issue since the focus of the major features was still on people who enjoy white privilege.


Olivia Palermo and her husband were on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial in the February issue of Flare, but it starred one thin, white model, making this issue a Whiteout Issue.



There were five women on the cover, models Jenna Lenfesty-Castilloux, Sophie Touchet, Shelby Furber, Charlotte Mingay, and Sasha Hronis. This is the cover equivalent of a Token Diversity Spread. The worst part is, is that in the article that the models were featured in, there were actually seven models total, including the five that were on the cover. There was one other model of colour besides Hronis–Ashley Foo. She and white model Nadiya Svirsky were not chosen for the cover. This is a crying shame as if Foo had been on the cover with Hronis, Flare’s efforts wouldn’t have been so transparently token.

There were two editorials in the March issue of Flare, not counting the cover story. Both featured a thin, white model each.


Tatiana Maslany was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial in the April issue. Rather repeating the sins of the March issue, it was a Token Diversity Spread as there were five models booked, but only one of them was a woman of colour.


Hailee Steinfeld was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial in the May issue, and it starred one thin, white model.

JUNE/JULY (Summer Issue)


The summer issue of Flare, covering June and July starred Eugenie Bouchard on the cover.

There were two editorials in the Summer issue of Flare. Both featured a thin, white model each, making this issue a Whiteout Issue.


Above: from the “Zen Mastery” editorial in Flare Summer 2015

One of the editorials was particularly offensive, featuring a white model running around in Japanese-inspired clothing (pictured above).


Kate Mara was on the cover.


Above: from Flare October 2015

There was one fashion editorial, starring Grace Mahary!


Karlie Kloss was on the cover

This issue was an embarrassment in many ways. Kloss was on the cover of what turned out to be a heavily sponsored-by-Joe-Fresh advertorial–for Flare‘s SEPTEMBER issue, people! There were two fashion editorials (not counting the Joe Fresh advertorial) starring thin, white models. As such, the September issue for Flare was a Whiteout Issue.


Lea Michele was on the cover.

There were two fashion editorials, both starring thin, white models.


Selena Gomez was on the cover.


Above: from the “Joyhood” editorial in Flare November 2015

There were two fashion editorials both starring thin, white models. However, one of the editorials (pictured above) had some beautiful gender-bending happening, which we wrote about here.



Zendaya was on the cover.

There was one fashion editorial to close out the year, starring one thin, white model.



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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