BBC News:– Japanese fashion brand Comme Des Garçons has been accused of cultural appropriation after white models took to its runway wearing cornrow wigs.
The wigs were part of the company’s men’s autumn and winter collection on show as part of Paris Fashion Week.
Critics on social media called the styling for Friday’s show “offensive”.
Hairstylist Julien d’Ys said he had been inspired by an “Egyptian prince” look, and had not intended to hurt or offend anyone.
But critics called out the styling, with Instagram account diet_prada stating that “the avant-garde Japanese label seemed to have taken a step back with their men’s show, this time putting white models in cornrow wigs”.
There were also black models in the show, some of whom wore the wigs, while others kept their own hair.
Julien d’Ys responded to the backlash on his Instagram page, stating: “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 apologise.”
However, despite more than 2,000 likes for his post, many of the comments underneath were negative.
Devinpink67 said: “Looks appropriate on the handsome dark skin model, a joke on the others next to and behind it never looks right but stupidity ridiculous braids, cornrows, twist, bantu knots, afro puffs, afros, slicked baby hairs REPEAT ARE B-L-A-C-K CULTURAL RELATED.”
And Kharileigh suggested: “In future, to avoid facing this heat again when taking inspiration from a culture that is not yours, PLEASE work closely with one from said culture to guide you in doing it properly.
“Your intention might not have been to culturally appropriate Egyptian culture, however your lack of care or awareness in executing it is extremely reckless and hence why it is deemed as cultural appropriation. Education alone avoids these situations, so learn from this and keep it pushing.”
The hairstylist had also posted an image of one of the sketches he had shown to the company before the show, using hashtags to reinforce the Egyptian inspiration (#égyptienboy #pharaon – French for pharoah).
Dazed reported that the brand had apologised in a statement: “The inspiration for the headpieces for Comme des Garçons menswear FW’20 show was the look of an Egyptian prince. It was never ever our intention to disrespect or hurt anyone – we deeply and sincerely apologise for any offence it has caused.
In 2018, the company which was founded by Rei Kawakubo, was criticised for the lack of diversity in the choice of models it used in its mainline women’s collection runway shows.
The BBC has contacted the brand for comment.