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Gucci isn't so gucci

by Breonnah Colón - Lifestyles Editor
Fri, Mar 9th 2018 03:00 pm

The idea of headscarves goes one of two ways in the West: either it’s seen as a beautiful, unique choice of style where an individual is using their fashion sense to make a statement, or it’s seen as a heavy, oppressive garment which is used to limit people, namely women, from being free and happy. Since 9/11, and even more so now, people covering their hair in an explicitly religious fashion have been the target of scrutiny, harassment and even violence. Women who cover their hair are deemed weak minded and manipulated, while men who cover their hair are viewed as violent terrorists. However, here seems to be one way to completely disregard these harsh taboos: walk them down fashion week runways on white models who would never cover their hair any other day.

That’s exactly what some high fashion brands did: paraded non-religious models in head covers which are typically used as religious symbols, according to fashionista.com. Models for brands like Gucci, Marc Jacobs and Max Mara all wore head scarves for fashion shows this year. 

As someone who covers my hair, I’m not bothered by the showcase of hijabs, turbans or any other type of headscarf. On the contrary, I find it beautiful that mainstream fashion and media are beginning to highlight an aspect of millions of peoples’ lives which otherwise is demonized. Even before covering my hair, I found hijab and turbans beautiful. Now that I am covering, I can appreciate the effort and skill required to pull off such fashionable looks. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with highlighting this custom insofar as it is a way of life for several million people across the globe. 

However, what is problematic and what I absolutely have an issue with is allowing models who never have and would never otherwise cover their hair sport this look solely as a fashion trend. That, my friends, is what we call cultural appropriation, and that’s extremely disrespectful. Of all the brands to showcase hijab on the runway, only two brands showcased the look on models who actually wear hijab. Those were Max Mara, who dressed hijabi model Halima Aden in an outfit with a headscarf, and Pyer Moss, who styled hijabi model Khadija Diawara. Both models are women of color who actively participate in the art of hijab, and therefore, their participation and recognition of their culture is totally acceptable. In a perfect world, these ladies would’ve been able to shine in their uniquely modest beauty, where their difference in fashion choice could have been used as a mark of acceptance and inclusion. Yet, these women weren’t the only two to cover their hair. In fact, Adena and Diawara were the minority of the fashion showcase which highlighted their very way of life. How ironic, huh?

Unsurprisingly, this fact was not lost on the world. Within hours of the show, people took to social media to give their opinions on the matter. According to allure.com, Gucci not only covered models’ hair hijab style, but also turbans which resembled the religious wrapping used by sikhs, as well as other traditional Asian garb, such as bindis and third eyes. So that’s appropriation of: Islam, Sikhism and Hinduism. Not to mention, those who wore these special ornaments were mostly white models. 

With such a scandalous disregard for religion, some are suggesting this appropriation was done wholeheartedly. In a website targeted solely toward Muslim women, Mysalaam.com explained Lamisa Khan, a writer said, “It doesn’t feel like it’s done by accident anymore; it’s as though they are doing it on purpose for attention.” I must admit, I agree.

 We live in a day and age where we as a society, especially in the West, but even more specifically in the United States, are highly aware of hijab. Let’s be honest, the general take on the cloth is that Americans don’t like it, so much that women and men alike have been targeted for wearing it. There is absolutely no way for these high scale brands to not be aware of the controversy that surrounds this practice. To choose to showcase hijab the way they did was absolutely intentional. We can say this because there were brands who specifically dressed models who actually wore hijab in order to accommodate their lifestyle, not to accent a purse. 

My advice to these brands: do better. There are millions of women and men alike who naturally cover their hair, who would be more than willing to show the West just how fashionable it can be. You don’t need to appropriate a culture to highlight its beauty, just highlight its beauty. Besides, you’ll make more money because no one would feel inclined to boycott your brand. 



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