Lifestyle Fashion and Beauty 13 Feb 2019 Gucci left red-faced ...

Gucci left red-faced over 'blackface'

AP
Published Feb 13, 2019, 2:33 pm IST
Updated Feb 13, 2019, 2:34 pm IST
Gucci creative head breaks silence over 'blackface' sweater.
A screenshot taken from an online fashion outlet showing the Gucci turtleneck black sweater for sale, that Gucci had to pull back from their online and physical stores . (Photo: AP)
 A screenshot taken from an online fashion outlet showing the Gucci turtleneck black sweater for sale, that Gucci had to pull back from their online and physical stores . (Photo: AP)

New York: Gucci's creative director broke his silence Tuesday over the USD 890 sweater that resembled blackface, saying racism was never his intention. Alessandro Michele, a design force at the Italian fashion house, lamented in a letter to employees both his own pain and "that of the people who saw in one of my creative projects an intolerable insult."

The black sweater with a pull-up neck featured a cut-out surrounded by cartoonish red lips. Michele wrote that it was not inspired by blackface but by the late Leigh Bowery, a performance artist, club promoter and fashion designer who often used flamboyant face makeup and costumes.

 

Regardless, Michelle said, he takes "full accountability" for the sweater, which was pulled last week amid widespread criticism. Gucci has apologised, saying in a previous statement posted on Twitter that it was committed to diversity and considered it a "fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected and at the forefront of every decision we make."

The balaclava-style sweater that covered the nose above the cut-out was ridiculed on social media as insensitive and racist. It emerged as attention in the US was focused on old photos showing politicians with their faces blackened. Other fashion brands have made similar missteps .

 

In December, Prada said it was no longer selling a line of accessories that featured a character with brown skin and exaggerated red lips after complaints they resembled blackface. Michele's internal letter was reported by the site Fashionista.com and Women's Wear Daily.

Marco Bizzarri, Gucci's president and CEO, told WWD, "The lack of knowledge of diversity and the consequent understanding are not at the level we expected, despite all the efforts we did inside the company in the last four years." The company is now "evaluating all the processes" to ensure "the right level of awareness and visibility," he said.

 

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