Gucci - Runway - Milan Fashion Week SS17 Gucci - Runway - Milan Fashion Week SS17
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Behind The Fashion Industry's Cultural Appropriation Of Face Tattoos

What does the industry's appropriation of hood aesthetics mean for people of color?

When Alessandro Michele premiered his Spring 2017 collection for Gucci, one Latvian model stood out on the catwalk. The model sported a bright pink sweater with GUCCI letters scribbled across the front, accessorizing with a glittery gold tie, and most uncomfortably—Gothic face tattoos inscribed on his forehead, chin, and neck. Despite the shocking appearance of faux ink, the show went on as usual, the audience brimming with excitement over the new line, which was reviewed by none other than rapper Gucci Mane in Vogue.

Face tattoos first appeared on major fashion runways in 1996, in a Givenchy fashion show. Their appearance adds a touch of rebelliousness to an otherwise stuffy fashion show that's built on a global multi-billion dollar empire. While such power moves by designers have become de rigueur, such an incorporation is increasingly questionable, as young, poor people of color are routinely stigmatized for facial tattoos and disallowed from the fashion industry.

"Face tattoos have strong associations with prison culture and gang culture, and their own complicated semantics within those settings. In 1980s California, for example, gang members began using tattoos as a way to demonstrate their allegiance and instill fear in their rivals. Inking gang insignias on the most visible body part possible, the face, has long represented both a permanent commitment and an unmistakable threat," describes Alice Newell-Hanson for i-D. "That sense of perceived danger plays into what makes facial tattoos attractive for fashion designers; motifs referencing both gang and prison ink have cropped up on fashion's catwalks recently."

The rising trend of face tattoos being present on the runway calls into question the cultural appropriation of hood aesthetics by the fashion industry. From Elle UK's fumbling of pronouncement of baby hair being a new trend, Alexander Wang's spray-painted "shirts you can't get anywhere else," Rick Owens' male models wearing du-rags at Paris Fashion Week in 2014, and Kylie Jenner's transformation to Kylie from the block in a Puma ad à la The Get Down, the additive of urban culture is featured to give fashion collections an "edge," despite the clothing not being marketed toward those from whom designers have appropriated.

Shane Oliver, creator of fashion line Hood By Air, is a rare designer in the fashion world who's incorporated models with real tattoos into his runway shows, as noted by Newell-Hanson: "Oliver doesn't borrow from countercultures on his catwalks, he represents them. Hood By Air was born out of outsider subcultures and is, to an extent, still embedded in them." The New York native, whose offbeat street style was influenced by the city's infamous House of Ninja, is one of the few black designers in the industry who has made it a point to add visual representation in the exhibition of his clothing lines.

Despite Oliver's dedication to casting models who are the representation of the garments he's marketing, the imbalance of people of color who are able to do the same is staggering. "In multiple interviews, members from all areas of the fashion industry—designers, professors, editors, retailers, financiers and communications executives—mentioned several factors, including socioeconomic realities, educational hurdles, the globalization of the industry and fashion’s own core sense of itself as an industry made up of outsiders," said journalist Vanessa Friedman in the New York Times. "These have all combined, they said, to create the current imbalance, which exists not only on the creative side but also, as [Tracey Reese] points out, 'on every level: journalists, buyers, merchandise managers, executives.'"

This unequal playing field makes the appropriation of face tattoos even more problematic, as the erasure of people of color who innovate and inspire designers are notably erased in every facet of the industry.

"While high fashion does also inspire face tattoos, tattooing your face with a Gucci logo feels less ethically sus than inserting a reference to a historically maligned or outlaw subculture into a high-end, commercially minded fashion show—particularly when the narrative of that subculture isn't examined elsewhere in the show," Newell-Hanson continued.

With a nod to Oliver's fashion career, here's to hoping for less cultural appropriation—and more cultural representation from those who are the foundation of a worldwide empire.

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Cardi B's Latest Freestyle Fuels Anticipation For Sophomore Album

Cardi B is sparking more anticipation for her next album thanks to her latest freestyle. On Monday (Nov. 19), the rapper dropped some bars on Instagram to hold fans over until the release of her sophomore project.

"Just a little something something... hair on healthy," she captioned the freestyle over Cam'ron's classic track, "357." Keeping it natural and raw, the Bronx native posts up in front of Cap'n Crunch and a Costco box full of Vienna sausages to drop her freestyle about the wins and losses she's taken this year.

"I be in the mansion, you be in my mentions / I came right out the trenches to the top of the charts / Lost friends on the way / This s***t is breaking my heart / 'Bout 30 seconds in I'm like where do I start / I don't act I'm a hustler just playing my part,"  she spits.

If anything, this can be a hint to fans that she's gravitating back towards her hip-hop roots, an element heavily heard on her debut album, Invasion of Privacy. In a recent interview with Billboard, Cardi talked about her new album and curiosities about its direction.

"There's certain music that I want to do, but I feel like, [are] people interested in that? I feel like things have changed. It's more like a twerk sound going on right now," she said. "It's just like, 'Should I just do my music around that?' But I cannot just go with what's hot. I still gotta go with what I want to do."

Cardi has no problem adapting to popular music. She's worked with the likes of Selena Gomez on DJ's Snake's "Taki Taki" with Ozuna in 2018 and took her guest spots to another level in 2019 by working with Ed Sheeran ("South of The Border"), Lil Nas X ("Rodeo") and French Montana ("Writings On The Wall"). She also dropped a show-stopping video for "Press" over the summer.

But at the end of the day, Cardi's new music is coming first. "My album is on my mind 24/7,"she said. "It's practically all I'm focusing on."

Enjoy her freestyle (and sleek blowout) below.

 

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Just alittle something something ......hair on healthy.

A post shared by Iamcardib (@iamcardib) on Nov 18, 2019 at 6:55pm PST

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Love To See It: DaniLeigh Choreographed DaBaby's Extraordinary "BOP" Video

Nearly reaching 10 million views in a matter of days, DaBaby's "BOP" music video teaser has A-1 editing, hilarious characters (recorder guy) and perfect choreography. As it turns out, we have DaniLeigh to thank for the rapper's smooth dance moves.

The singer-songwriter teamed up with choreographer Coach Cherry to share her eclectic dance style with the buzzing rapper. "BOP" dropped Friday (Nov. 15) as "BOP on Broadway" with a bevy of dancers taking part in the one-shot style video. Directed by Reel Goats, the teaser feels like the full music video for the single thanks to the three different dance flows including a surprising set by the iconic Jabbawockeez.

DaniLeigh's influence can be felt throughout the video thanks to her signature moves. With her own video reaching 100 million views on YouTube, the singer continued her winning streak with the remix for "Easy" featuring Chris Brown.

The video earned her a Soul Train Music Award nomination for "Best Dance Video" and inspiration for lovers of dance challenges. The Dominican-American might look familiar to many thanks to her contribution to the infamous #InMyFeelings challenge where she managed to hop and bop out of moving car. Ironically, the "Lil Bebe" singer started her career as a backup dancer for the likes of Nelly Furtado and Pharrell. She also choreographed and wrote the treatment for Prince's visuals for "Breakfast Can Wait."

"He wanted it really big in the dance industry so from there, I held auditions and did this video on my own," an 18-year-old Dani told VIBE in 2013. "It's crazy and hard to believe but it was great."

Dani recently released "Cravin" featuring G-Eazy and dropped her debut project The Plan late last year.

Check out the visuals to "BOP" below.

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Netflix Drops Preview Of 'Selena: The Series'

In a video that has amassed over 62,000 views since its Nov. 12 debut, Netflix posted a sneak peek into its upcoming Selena: The Series—Part 1. Within the 60-second clip, viewers witness actress Christian Serratos as the Tejano legend, preparing for a performance in one of Selena’s most iconic outfits.

Serratos has starred in hit series like The Walking Dead, Twilight, American Horror Story: Murder House, and more. In a statement published by Deadline, the show's production company Campanario Entertainment and its president/co-founder Jaime Dávila, praised Serratos for stepping into the "Dreaming Of You" singer's shoes.

“Selena is an inspirational figure who’s transcended generations. At Campanario, we’ve always known it was crucial for this series to find actors with the right mix of talent, charisma, and passion to honor Selena’s legacy and the story of her family,” said Davila. “Our casting director Carla Hool and her team have found an amazing cast to depict the Quintanilla family, and we’re sure fans everywhere will be captivated yet again by Selena’s incredible life.” On March 31, 1995, Selena was murdered, sparking a wave of tributes and films, such as 1997's movie starring Jennifer Lopez as the iconic vocalist.

The program, which chronicles Selena's life and career, is slated to premiere in 2020 with six hourlong episodes. Watch the preview above.

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