We all know that fashion can be a lot of fun. After all, scoring the perfect piece is exhilarating; fashion can make us feel confident and fabulous; and best of all, the pageantry and performance of it all can be a potent form of escapism – and who doesn’t need that these days?
That’s why we’re always slightly horrified when fashion designers do something so clueless, so utterly out of touch with reality, that it makes us wonder whether they’re living on the same planet as the rest of us. Need proof? Read on for 11 times fashion designers got it completely wrong. Prepare to raise your eyebrows.
11 times fashion designers were monumentally out of touch with reality
N.HOOLYWOOD, Fall 2017Oh dear. For Fall 2017, Japanese menswear label N.Hoolywood presented an entire collection inspired by the “street fashion" of homeless people. The collection featured haunted-looking models in ragged, oversized garments carrying what looked like plastic garbage bags. Our verdict: Derelicte should've stayed in Zoolander.N. Hoolywood
COMME DES GARÇONS, Fall 1995Sadly, sartorial tone-deafness is nothing new in the fashion world. Case in point: this “pajama look" featured in Rei Kawakubo's 1995 Sleep collection for Comme Des Garçons stirred ire among fashion fans and critics alike for its resemblance to clothing worn by Holocaust concentration camp victims.Tumblr
MOSCHINO, Spring 2017Jeremy Scott has always stirred up controversy with his in-your-face designs, but his pill-themed “Capsule" collection (get it?) for Italian design house Moschino took things a shade too far, causing many addiction specialists, families of overdose victims and others to call him out for his seemingly lighthearted promotion of drug use.Getty Images
PHILIPP PLEIN, Fall 2013We'd argue that the runway is never an appropriate place to celebrate gun violence and graphically violent imagery, but Philipp Plein's gun-heavy presentation — featuring unhinged-looking “shooters" clad in gas masks and balaclavas — was particularly cringe-worthy.Getty Images
JUNYA WATANABE, Spring 2016What do you get when you combine a mish-mash of West African kente, patchwork and batiked garments, accessories like Masai beads, battle shields, spears and fake dreadlocks on an all-white lineup of models? Answer: one helluva problematic and culturally insensitive presentation.Getty Images
VALENTINO, Spring 2016Like Watanabe, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of Valentino came under fire for their homage to "wild, tribal Africa" featuring raffia, bone necklaces, Kikuyu textiles, trade beads and other traditional embellishments, worn by a cast of almost all white models with their hair in cornrows and dreadlocks. Sigh.Getty Images
prabal gurung, Fall 2017As feminists, we are all for t-shirts that promote the strength of women. But ripping off a design made in 1972 for Labyris Books, recreated with permission by Otherwild (who donates 25% of sales to Planned Parenthood) and not acknowledging it whatsoever? Hard pass. Getty Images
VICTORIA'S SECRET, Spring 2016Nothing says sexy underwear like cultural appropriation, right? Um, no. But that didn't stop lingerie behemoth Victoria's Secret from styling the scantily-clad models in their 2016 fashion show with traditional Chinese cultural symbols like ornate embroidery, phoenixes and dragons.Getty Images
DSQUARED, Fall 2015You'd think that Dean and Dan Caten, the Canadian-born, Milan-based twin brothers behind the DSquared label, would know better than to promote their "Inuit tribe-meets-European finery" collection on social media with the inexcusable #dsquaw hashtag. But no — it took a major outcry and proposed boycott to get the company to remove the hashtag.Getty Images
MARC JACOBS, Spring 2017When a pack of mostly white models walked Marc Jacobs' Spring 2017 runway with piled high, multicoloured fake dreadlocks, the designer (rightfully) caught some flak. The zinger, though: when taken to task on his appropriation of the traditional Rastafarian hairstyle, Jacobs bristled, saying he just "doesn't see colour." Yikes. (Jacobs later apologized for the remark.)Getty Images
MAISON MARGIELA, Fall 2015We're not sure if the hobbling, paranoid-looking, paper bag-clutching models at John Galliano's debut collection for Margiela were meant to be funny, but the whole show left us with a bad taste in our mouths. Seriously, is it necessary to poke fun at mental illness and “crazy old ladies" while you're showcasing your latest designs?Getty Images