Comme des Garçons accused of cultural appropriation after sending models down runway in cornrows

Olivia Petter
AFP via Getty Images

Comme des Garçons has been accused of cultural appropriation after models were sent down the runway in cornrow wigs.

The luxury Japanese fashion house showcased the hairdo at its Paris Fashion Week men’s show on Friday.

The move swiftly prompted a backlash on social media, with Twitter users arguing the show featured mostly white models sporting a style typically associated with black culture.

“It’s because of stuff like this that I chose to write a book on the racial aesthetics of gentrification first and not the racial aesthetics of fashion,” tweeted one academic who specialises in racial studies.

“There will always be material for that fashion book because this sh*t will never cease.”

Another person tweeted a photograph from the runway show alongside the caption: “Hey Comme des Garcons....what in the cultural appropriation is this s***!???[sic]”.

In response to the backlash, the hairstylist behind the look, Julien d’Ys, has apologised and explained the cornrows were inspired by an Egyptian prince.

The stylist posted on Instagram: “Dear all, My inspiration for the Comme des Garçons show was Egyptian prince: A Look i found truly beautiful and inspirational.

“A look that was an hommage. Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone , ever. If I did I deeply apologize [sic].”

The criticism comes after an article in Heroine titled “Why Won’t Comme des Garçons Hire Black Models?“ claimed that Comme des Garçons has cast just five black models in its last 54 runway shows.

It’s not the first time cornrows have sparked criticisms of cultural appropriation.

In 2018, Kim Kardashian West was heavily criticised for donning the look, describing her braided hairstyle as “Bo Derek braids”.

Bo Derek was famously styled with cornrows in the 1979 film 10.

Cornrows originated in Africa, cosmetologist and barber Toni Love told Ebony magazine.

“The intricate braiding of the hair indicated the tribe you belonged to,” she said.

“Cornrows on women date back to at least 3000 B.C. and as far back as the nineteenth century for men, particularly in Ethiopia.”

The Independent has contacted Comme des Garçons for comment.

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