Does adding glitter atop blackface makes it acceptable? This must have been the thinking of Italian fashion designer Claudio Cutugno during Milan’s Fashion Week. On Tuesday, Cutugno’s runway models wore what appeared to be blackface, but with a “creative” and “sparkly” spin.
The all-black themed Fall 2015 fashion runway show was inspired by artist Emilio Isgro, who uses bees in his artwork. The glitter is supposed to be bees swarming on the model’s faces.
After the social media backlash, Cutugno explained his controversial decision to E! News.
“I think it is a pleasure to have the chance to answer the criticism about the make up I decided to use,” he said. “Anyway just to be clear: the collection was inspired by Emilio Isgrò artworks. He was literally erasing parts of the text of some books, he was putting some black ink on top on some words he wanted to erase so to let some words come out from the text and be underlined. As well as this, in ancient Greek, the meaning of the words that were underlined was related to the tradition of wearing black veils around the heads when women needed to say goodbye to their husbands. This also today is a tradition which in Sicily is used when women go to burials. So the black make up we decided to use was actually a translation of the black veil. I chose not to use the real veil because I did not want to cover the whole faces of the models.
“I am extremely sorry if many people thought this make up would result offensive and also that I am racist, but that was not my intent. I am extremely respectful of the Afro American culture and extremely sorry for each type episode of racism.”
Was this just creative makeup or just out-right wrong? You make the call.
Photo Credit: Getty Image