Following a string of recent culturally insensitive fashion incidents, including Paul Frank’s pow wow and Victoria’s Secret geisha outfit, Dolce & Gabbana sent a pair of earrings down the Spring 2013 runway that are causing ire.
The accessories feature a dark-skinned black woman with a blue scarf, a gold necklace and a basket of fruit on her head. The Blackamoor-inspired earrings conjure up colonialist images of black femininity. As The Frisky points out:
“On the one hand, the earrings depict a very stereotypical, some might say colonialist, idea of a black woman: very dark skin, a head scarf wrapped on her head, the basket of fruit…And it’s not just the earrings that raised eyebrows; style blog Refinery 29 reports Dolce and Gabbana’s spring 2013 collection included “burlap dresses” and “fruit cornucopias” which suggested an ode to “a long-lost colonial era.”
Furthermore, the idea of other races walking around with a black woman’s head hanging from their ear, herein a Caucasian model dressed by European fashion house, Dolce & Gabbana, rubs people the wrong way. The image also appears on two of the garments in the collection.
There’s much debate over whether the earrings are a product of exoticism or plain ole racism. Either way, colonialist images of black women carry with them a history of degradation and humiliation that shouldn’t be capitalized on and sold as earrings.