Gucci's CEO And Creative Director Speak Out On Blackface Controversy, Admit To ‘Cultural Ignorance’
Dapper Dan spoke at length about the sweater and promised to meet with Gucci's CEO.
Update (February 12, 2019): Gucci's creative director, Alessandro Michele, has taken responsibility for a sweater the brand's critics have slammed as simulating blackface. Michele has also apologized to his employees for the piece.
Fashionista reports the creative head sent a memo to the brand's employees Tuesday in which he said he hoped "to give a name to the pain of these days."
Michele began his memo by claiming he never meant the sweater to be racist; instead, he said it was supposed to be a tribute to performance artist Leigh Bowery, a man known for painting his face white and for putting clown-like red lipstick around his mouth.
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"It was a tribute to Leigh Bowery, to his camouflage art, to his ability to challenge the bourgeois conventions and conformism, to his eccentricity as a performer, to his extraordinary vocation to masquerade meant as a hymn to freedom," the director maintained.
Michele went on to say, "I am aware that sometimes our actions can end up with causing unintentional effects. It is therefore necessary taking full accountability for these effects," and claimed the hurt expressed by those opposed to his sweater "causes me the greatest grief."
He closed his memo by writing, "I really shelter the suffer of all I have offended. And I am heartfully sorry for this hurt." The executive also promised to work with Gucci's CEO to "increase inclusivity, diversity, participation and cultural awareness" throughout the company.
As Fashionista noted in an earlier report, Gucci CEO Marco Bizzarri apologized to employees in a memo of his own, writing, "We made a mistake. A big one. Because of cultural ignorance, but ignorance is not an excuse."
Bizzarri also pledged to correct the issue through hiring, promising to "facilitate an increase of different communities within the creative office."
Original: Harlem fashion legend Dapper Dan has condemned a Gucci sweater that appears to simulate blackface.
In his criticism of the luxury brand, Dapper Dan vowed to hold company leaders accountable for the offensive mistake, reports NBC New York.
"I am a Black man before I am a brand. ... There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult," he wrote. "There cannot be inclusivity without accountability."
The designer also claimed he would meet with Gucci’s CEO this week.
Dan has a lengthy history with the storied Italian house, according to The Fader. In the 1980s and '90s, he became known for combining Gucci and other high-end brands with urban fashion, in part due to those brands' refusal to dress the rap and hip-hop stars of the day. As Blavity reported, the brand tapped Dan for a capsule collection in 2017 after the house was accused of copying one of his designs.
Gucci has been facing backlash since a Twitter user pointed out the unfortunate design of a turtleneck, as Blavity noted. The sweater is all black; when the wearer turns up the neck, giant red lips cover their mouth. Several Black celebrities have vowed to boycott the brand.
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@gucci As a 7 figure/yr customer & long time supporter of your brand I must say...Y’all GOT US fucked UP!!! APOLOGY NOT ACCEPTED!!!! We ain’t going for this “oops my bad I didn’t mean to be racist and disrespectful towards your people” shit!!! Y’all knew wtf y’all was doin and WE AINT GOING FOR IT!!! We ALL GOTTA Stop buying,wearing,and supporting this piece of shit company And ALL PIECE OF SHIT COMPANIES UNTIL THEY LEARN TO RESPECT OUR DOLLARS & VALUE OUR BUSINESS!!!! Our culture RUNS THIS SHIT!!! We (People of color) spend $1.25 TRILLION/year (but are the least respected and the least included)and if we stop buying ANYTHING they MUST correct any and ALL of our concerns. That’s THE ONLY WAY we can get some RESPECT PUT ON OUR NAME!!!! I Don’t Give a Fuck if I gotta wear Target brand shit.... #FuckGucci
The top was eventually pulled from stores, and Gucci issued an apology.
Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019
We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/P2iXL9uOhs
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