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

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.





Questionable Black Face Paint at Vivienne Westwood’s Fall 2015 Show

Vivienne Westwood is a famous fashion designer, renowned for her activism and having basically invented punk fashion. She’s not one to shy away from the shocking or unusual, often doing gender-bending shows where male models wear dresses, etc.


That being said, is it perhaps a bit uncomfortable that she sent one of the models down her Fall 2015 runway last week sporting black face paint or black thread?

While everyone has been shining the critical spotlight (and rightly so) on Dsquared²’s racist Fall 2015 show and the potential blackface shown at Anrealage’s show, this model in Westwood’s show seems to have quietly slipped under the radar.


As you can see, it’s the same model for all three looks, and they were the only model in the whole show to have their face entirely covered in the black makeup/thread/whatever.

VivenneWestwood Fall 2015

Given, every model on the runway was shown wearing scribbles of black makeup to varying degrees, even the many black models. Heck, Westwood’s show was probably one of the most diverse (relatively speaking) we saw at fashion month for this season.

Vivienne Westwood Fall 2015 Women


So, was it blackface? The jury may be out on this one, but it’s perhaps best for everyone if we just avoid covering the faces of what appears to be white men with black face paint, black thread, black anything, ever again.

All images found on here

Covers & Content: June 2014

How did Canadian fashion magazines fare this month in terms of diversity? Read on for further details.


The Cover Star: Elle Fanning

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: No. There was one fashion editorial in this issue, making this a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No


The Cover Star: Ellen Page

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: 1 editorial, starring one white model, making this issue a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No


The Cover Star: Emma Roberts

Perceived Appearance of Cover Star: White

Does the magazine appear to feature any models of colour in the editorials?: 2 editorials, both starring white models, making this issue a Whiteout Issue.

Does the magazine appear to feature any plus-size models in the editorials?: No


Yikes, it looks like Canadian fashion magazines really failed this month in terms of diversity–all three magazines were Whiteout Issues. 

Your New Unexpected Source for “Nude” Undies

There are a few problems with so-called ‘nude’ underwear, which is a shame, ’cause as a lot of folks know, ‘nude’ undies are an indispensable fashion basic. The problems are as follows:

1. “Nude” tends to be two colours–a light pink-y beige or black. There is no in between. That obviously excludes a lot of skin tones we would generally call “nude”.

2. So-called ‘nude’ underwear in a helpful shade tends to be really expensive/not as financially accessible as we would like.

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All this goes out the window at an unexpected fashion source–Aerie, Amercan Eagle’s lingerie/underwear brand/line. American Eagle is barely relevant nowadays, but the whole line is practically worth it for this discovery alone: ‘nude’ undies that would actually look nude on different skin tones, and at a helluva good price. See for yourself:

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Above: get thee to these undies here.

Can you believe it?? Pretty exciting. No more trips to the department store to get proper Calvin Klein undies and shelling out $30 for two pairs for a shade that hardly suits your skin tone. Another bonus? They go up to size XXL!!

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