During the presentation of his 2016 fall collection for New York Fashion Week on Thursday, designer Marc Jacobs unleashed a fleet of statuesque, predominantly white women decked out in high-concept harajuku couture and woolen deadlock hair pieces. The aesthetic of the night could be best described “cross-cultural appropriative mess.”
Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, and other models strode across the stage with their heads piled high with multicolored deadlock extensions made of yarn that were created by Jena Counts, a Florida grandmother who left her job in accounting to become a full-time Etsy shop owner.
It didn’t take long for people within the fashion blogosphere to voice concerns that perhaps Jacobs didn’t understand or appreciate the cultural offensiveness of taking a black hairstyle that has been widely mocked within the fashion industry when worn by black people, turning it into a literal art project, sewing it onto a bunch of white women’s heads, and calling it fashion.
In response to the online criticism, Jacobs took to his Instagram to post a lengthy, now-deleted defense of his choices beneath a photo of the exhibition. Jacobs mocked people criticizing him for “whatever nonsense about race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner.”
“Funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair,” Jacobs wrote. “I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race–I see people.”
Jacob’s attempt at explaining himself only fueled the fiery criticism being leveled at him on social media which quickly prompted the designer to hop back onto Instagram and pen another message explaining that his earlier statements insinuating that straight hair was the sole purview of white people was factually incorrect.
“Of course straight hair isn’t a white thing,” Jacobs said. “I was referring to hair styling and texture for my fashion show and [being] defensive. I apologize if I offended anyone at all. Certainly wasn’t my intention at all.”