Designer Marc Jacobs along with rappers Salt-N-Peppa and LL Cool J have landed the cover of InStyle‘s September issue, an image shot by Belly photographer/director Hype Williams, known for the fish eye lens he used in ’90s rap videos.
The editorial features Jacobs’ ’90s, hip hop-flavored fall 2017 collection as worn by a mix of models and the aforementioned rap greats, along with Kurtis Blow and Biz Markie.
In the article, Jacobs addressed the social media push back he received when he showed models wearing colorful dreadlock wigs on his spring 2017 runway presentation with critics accusing the designer of cultural appropriation. It was a charge that took flight in part because the line up of models was almost entirely white and also because Jacobs’ arguments were viewed as tone deaf.
“All who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race or skin color wearing their hair in any particular style or manner funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair,” wrote Jacobs on his Instagram at the time, adding, “I respect and am inspired by people and how they look. I don’t see color or race, I see people.”
Jacobs explained to InStyle that the dreadlock idea originally was inspired by his friend, Matrix co-director Lana Wachowski, who is known for her bright red and pink locs.
“What I learned from that whole thing, what caused me to pause after it died down a little bit, was that maybe I just don’t have the language for this, or maybe I’ve been insensitive because I operate so inside my little bubble of fashion,” Jacobs explained.
And granted this is a fair argument. The language associated with identity is ever dynamic and what was considered acceptable terminology to describe someone ten years ago, is considered the height of ignorance today. In support of his critique, Jacobs noted when he put models in Afro wigs for a 2009 Louis Vuitton runway, the feedback was enthusiastic.
Still, while Jacobs acknowledged he lacked the proper fluency, he also believes the discussion around appropriation is stepping into dangerous territory, and makes a fair point when he argues, “There seems to be this strange feeling that you can be whoever you want as long as it’s ‘yours,’ which seems very counter to the idea of cross-pollination, acceptance, and equality. Now you can’t go to a music festival with feathers in your hair because it’s cultural appropriation.”
LL also weighed in on the controversy and Jacobs fall collection. “There’s an argument to be made that we should all be free to express ourselves, but I think it’s good when you include artists who lifted the culture up,” said LL. “This is great, because instead of Marc just running with the culture, he’s grabbing some people who are official and a part of that, and I think he should be commended for it. Instead of appropriation, it’s a collaboration.”
Check out images from the shoot below, along with a short interview with Salt and Pepa on how they met.
Salt N Pepa