comscore Gucci creative head breaks silence over ‘blackface’ sweater | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
News

Gucci creative head breaks silence over ‘blackface’ sweater

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    A model wears a creation as part of the Gucci women’s Fall/Winter 2018-2019 collection, presented during the Milan Fashion Week, in Milan, Italy.

NEW YORK >> Gucci’s creative director broke his silence today over an $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 cutout 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 apologized, 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 cutout was ridiculed on social media as insensitive and racist. It emerged as attention in the U.S. 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.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature
Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Scroll Up