While the act of painting one’s face black for the purposes of entertainment is outdated and considered a cultural impropriety, the world of fashion is condemning one of its own this week for the practice at a major event.
An Italian fashion designer is being accused of racial insensitivity, after he persuaded his models to strut the catwalk for a show during Milan Fashion Week in full blackface.
According to E!, Claudio Cutugno presented his new collection at the international fashion gathering by asking his models to appear donning sparkly black makeup on Feb. 24, as part of his all-black-themed show.
Industry websites and blogs soon lit up with criticism of the decision, with a Bustle writer stating: “I’m all for unique and interesting styles that command attention, but come on — you can hardly see the models’ faces. Not to mention that this is literally blackface, which is, you know, racist.”
Refinery29, which is reporting the design was inspired by Cutugno’s love for artist Emilio Isgrò, who regularly uses bees in his art, is questioning the decision.
“Was there no one backstage who thought, ‘Hey, you know what else this kind of looks like?’ Putting glitter on top of black paint does not even remotely take away the insulting nature of this practice,” a Refinery29 writer chided.
A photo, which was published by the Daily Mail, shows at least one of the models unleashed her exposed breasts to accompany her painted face.