Gucci Blackface Scandal
Fashion Published: February 13, 2019 Updated: February 18, 2019  |  WORDS: Staff

Gucci’s CEO and creative director issue statements over blackface scandal

The Gucci blackface controversy stemmed from the designer label’s recent wool balaclava jumper.

On the back of widespread criticism, Gucci’s CEO and creative director have expressed regret over the issue.

The balaclava jumper that sparked the Gucci blackface controversy was part of its Fall/Winter 2018 collection and has since been pulled from Gucci’s online store. Despite the Italian fashion house’s apology last week, the damage, as it appears, has already been done.

The jumper has a pull-up neck that extends to the bottom half of the face, featuring a large red-lip graphic and a cut-out at the mouth area. Following a social media storm pointing out the distasteful similarities to blackface, Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele has insisted that his inspiration came from elsewhere: the face makeup and costumes often used by the late performance artist Leigh Bowery.

Both Gucci’s CEO Mario Bizzari and creative director Alessandro Michele have issued personal letters to the company’s staff voicing their regret over the matter, according to internal memos obtained by Fashionista.

“The fact that, contrarily to my intentions, that turtle-neck jumper evoked a racist imagery causes me the greatest grief. But I am aware that sometimes our actions can end up with causing unintentional effects. It is therefore necessary taking full accountability for these effects,” Michele said in the letter.

Mario Bizzari’s personal letter came before Michele’s and addressed the need for positive reforms in the company. “We thought we were standing in a better position, and we need to recognize that we are not. We have to move even quicker. We are a learning organization, and I am now working on a set of immediate, concrete actions — from building a global cultural awareness program to a company-wide system that will allow diversity to bloom everywhere, to a full program of scholarships in major cities, such as New York, Nairobi, Tokyo, Beijing, and Seoul which will facilitate an increase of different communities within the creative office — that I will announce in detail this week. I will also be discussing these important initiatives with leaders from different communities in order to develop a constructive and appropriate framework. I don’t want to be divided, I want to invite everyone to join us,” he stated.

Fashion is no stranger to racial insensitivity, what with Dolce & Gabbana being guilty of ridiculing Chinese culture a few months back. What the fashion world truly needs is diversity at all levels to identify and prevent these things from happening again.

What are your thoughts on the Gucci blackface controversy? Let us know in the comments below.

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