The usage of dreadlocks in Marc Jacob’s fashion show has reignited the debate of black cultural appropriation.
Marc Jacobs recently debuted his Spring/Summer 2017 collection at the New York fashion show in September. To the surprise of many, much attention was diverted from the new designs and cast upon the hairstyle of the models. All of these models – 95% of them white – wore multi-coloured dreadlocks, which were tied up on the top of their heads.
Jacobs insists that the wool extensions, aided in adding further exuberance to his artistic vision. However, many do not see this as art but see it something which is much more political – cultural appropriation. It is the mimicry of a sacred cultural object – a meaningful, cultural hairstyle imitated in a fashion show – which has provoked much discussion on the ethics of cultural appropriation.
Many believe that care must be taken where one intends to ‘appreciate’ a culture which is disparate to one’s own. Dreadlocks in this case, appear to have been reduced to a mere decoration; their cultural integrity has been undermined in efforts of promoting a brand and sustaining capital.
It is ironic that dreadlocks can be ‘appreciated’ when it appears on a high fashion runway, yet are often degraded when they appear as a symbol of black culture and consciousness. In February 2015, singer/actress Zendaya Coleman was criticised on social media for wearing dreadlocks to the Oscars.
Furthermore, negative comments reflect the stereotypical connotations attached to the wearing of dreadlocks.