UPDATE: Designer Claudio Cutugno has responded to the blackface allegations in a statement to E! News:
“I think is a pleasure to have the chance to answer the cricism about the make up I decided to use. 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 did not even wanted to refer to the bees Isgrò is using in his artworks: someone said I wanted to represent the faces “as they would have been swarmed by bees” but to me that idea would have not been cohesive with the whole creative process behind the collection and above all pretty cruel. 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. Furthermore my inspiration was coming from a completely different idea which has nothing to do with the theme of afroamerican culture. I would have never thought someone could have find the make up offensive, otherwise I would have never used it.”
Designer Claudio Cutugno caused a bit of a stir after sending his models down the runway with blackfaces, covered in a sparkly glitter on Feb. 24 during Milan Fashion Week. Some critics argued that glitter or not, this look is still blackface and it is highly offensive.
Refinery29 took a stance on Cutugno’s makeup choice very clear with a piece titled “Why the Hell Is This Still Happening?” writing, “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.”
According to the The Associated Press, Cutugno was named the winner of the “Live Next Generation” contest sponsored by the Italian Fashion Chamber. The 22-year-old Italian designer was one of five finalists who received the opportunity to showcase their work.
Was Cutugno purposefully trying to be offensive? Maybe not. But the press he is receiving behind this sure doesn’t hurt, especially as a new designer.
Cutugno has not responded to the backlash, but according to the Daily Mail, his collection was inspired by the artist Emilio Isgrò, who regularly uses bees in his work. Supposedly the sparkly blackface is meant to look like bees are swarming on the models’ faces. If that is true, then why didn’t he just use fake bees? Too literal, I guess.
This fashion season has been filled with plenty of controversy on the catwalks. Cutugno’s show follows the Rick Owens Paris Fashion Week menswear show, where male models hit the catwalk with their private parts fully exposed on Jan. 22. The risky trend continued with models exposing their breasts in sheer blouses for the Gucci Fall 2015 show.
Are you offended by the blackfaces? Let us know your thoughts. Comment below.