Because the new trend seems to be brands embarrassingly appropriating other cultures into their campaigns without seeming to understand how dumb it is, we now have another beauty to add to the pile.
Valentino’s latest advertising gem features a string of mostly white models with cornrows and dreadlocks wrapped into buns, posing against a backdrop of Kenyan tribes and landscapes.
It comes just days after a Hungarian journo dressed herself up in blackface to raise awareness of secluded African tribes, and a Thai cosmetic company pushed the message of “you need to be white to win”.
According to creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, “wild Africa” was the inspiration for the collection, with images shot in Amboseli National Park in Kenya.
But this isn’t exactly Valentino’s first foray into African style, with the pre-fall 2015 lookbook featuring models sporting cornrows, while the spring 2016 runway show was heavily inspired by the same African ‘theme’, featuring bone necklaces, Masai beading, Kikuyu textiles, and feathers and fringed jackets hand-painted with geometric designs made to look “primitive, tribal, spiritual, yet regal” – their words, not ours.
And the response wasn’t exactly enthusiastic:
Stop doing this shit. Just stop.
— Samantha Powell (@sdpowell1) October 6, 2015
As for this latest campaign, Piccioli said, “We wanted to shoot not a fashion vision [of Africa], but more of a cultural vision — and not in a studio with an elephant”.
And according to Daily Life, this sentiment isn’t exactly uncommon. Editor Shiona Turini commented, “Black culture is often the inspiration, but black people aren’t part of the conversation. When we’re included, we’re able to help make a more well-rounded product — runway show, beauty story, hair tutorial, or editorial.”