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CSU students respond to New York Fashion Week’s use of cultural expression

New York Fashion Week, which occurred September 8-14, is the first of many fashion weeks this fall where designers from all walks of life will show off their creative feats to a style-hungry audience. At this fall’s NYFW, designers Anniesa Hasibuan and Marc Jacobs seemed to be on two different levels of cultural expression. Their design choices created a dialogue around the world about how to incorporate culture into fashion, receiving both positive and negative reactions.

Hasibuan made history when she featured a hijab in every one of her runway looks. This was said to be a first at NYFW, and the result was beautiful. Models flowed down the runway in lovely ensembles made from lace, chiffon and silk, adorned with jewels and pearls.


Some of the looks featured elaborate gowns, tunics and kimonos. According to Hasibuan’s Instagram, her designs were inspired by the color and vibrancy of her home in Jakarta, Indonesia. The first-ever Indonesian designer received a standing ovation from the audience, which is said to be rare at the end of a runway show.

Hasibuan told CNN, I did not realize the result can be this amazing, and I am thrilled and humbled by the welcome reaction given.”

Fashion major Nogah Seidemann appreciates the Hasibuan’s design choice.

“I think it’s really great to see such a diverse perspective in the fashion industry, especially coming from a designer like her,” Nogah Seidemann said.

Computer science major Sumner E said making cultural references in design does not seem out of the ordinary.

“It surprises me that the hijab is only now making its way into fashion,” E said. “If anything, it creates a dialogue in which more cultural references find their way into mainstream art.”

Jacobs closed out NYFW with an eccentric show full of satin hot pants, metallic platforms and colorful wool dreadlocks piled on each models head. Jacobs was immediately under fire with thousands of people leaving Instagram comments and tweets claiming cultural appropriation of black beauty and questioning why it was okay for white models to wear a hairstyle that has a deep African history.

After seeing the flood of comments under one of the photos from the show on Instagram, Jacob replied with this comment: “…funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair. I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race- I see people.”

This created another uproar of angry tweets. Twitter user @MysticHue wrote this comment: “If Marc Jacobs doesn’t “see color” then why did he bring up WOC (women of color) straightening their hair?”


Jacobs clarified his comments once again by writing this: “I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself through art, clothes, words, hair, music…EVERYTHING. Of course I do “see” color but I DO NOT discriminate.”

CSU student, Zena M, supports the idea that Jacobs is guilty of cultural appropriation.

“For someone who has such a big impact on the fashion industry and the people who follow it, it is important that he conveys that message that resonates with everyone,” M said. “Unfortunately, during fashion week, he disregarded that fact that he appropriated dreadlocks and showed insensitivity towards the matter.”

Fashion major Krista said designers should respect cultures.

“It’s hard for artists to let go of an idea because they’ll say that they’re not using it in a harmful way but rather portraying it as a beautiful idealist look,” Krista said. “Different cultures should always be respected and you should always be aware of it when designing looks.”

These designers showed that fashion’s impact on the world goes farther than the runway.

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    Gracious StoreSep 22, 2016 at 2:06 am

    Certain trends such as mode of dressing or hair do may be associated with a particular culture or people. it does not mean that people from different background cannot wear such outfits or hairdo. As people move from their places of origin to other places, people assimilate and imbibe cultures different from theirs, to the point that no culture is “pure” any more, as it has been one way or the other adulterated by other cultures.