Comme des Garcons accused of cultural appropriation over cornrow wigs

Model at Comme des Garcons show. Credit: Instagram - @juliendys

Officials at Comme des Garcons have issued an apology after they were accused of cultural appropriation for having models wear cornrow wigs during their latest Paris Fashion Week show.

The Japanese fashion brand, headed up by Rei Kawakubo, debuted its fall 2020 menswear collection in Paris on Friday, showcasing an array of colourful, patterned clothing.

However, it was the styling of the models that caught people's attention, as the catwalk stars headed down the runway wearing lace-front wigs designed to resemble cornrows, although some black models sported their own hair.

Critics were quick to call out the brand for cultural appropriation, with the team behind fashion watchdog Diet Prada deeming the decision to be "a step back" and "problematic", while other social media users branded it "offensive".

Hairstylist Julien d'Ys, who has collaborated with Kawakubo for many years, responded to the backlash by insisting he had been inspired by an "Egyptian prince" look and had not intended to offend anyone.

"Dear all, my inspiration for the comme des garcons show was Egyptian prince - a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational. A look that was an hommag (sic)," he wrote on Instagram. "Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did, I deeply apologise."

Representatives for the brand issued a similar apology to Dazed, with them insisting, "It was never, ever our intention to disrespect or hurt anyone - we deeply and sincerely apologise for any offense it has caused."

The company previously came under fire in early 2018 after Martin Lerma wrote an article criticising the lack of diversity in the models used for the Comme des Garcons presentations. In the piece, he revealed the brand hadn't cast a model of colour in more than 20 years, something bosses rectified when they unveiled their fall/winter 2018 show.

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