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Case Study #1: Fashions' New Faux Pas?

Posted on the 30 November 2012 by Nelle @ImSoJheanelle

In the world of fashion, there is always that quest for the next “in” thing, making bold moves with shock and awe is the designers’ technique of getting attention of the world. By now, if you haven’t heard or seen Dolce & Gabbana’s 2013 spring line, please allow me to catch you up on the ruckus this fashion house has been causing lately. On the other hand, pictures tell a thousand stories. So far, if I have peaked your curiosity, take a gander at the picture below.

Case Study #1: Fashions' New Faux Pas?

 Gabbana their 2013 Spring Collection

            Notice anything out of the ordinary? Offensive? Unique? If you guessed all of the above, then you are absolutely right. Although, it strikes the wrong nerve with certain demographics, let us examine the current situation surrounding D&G and the use of assumed African imagery in recent display at Milan’s fashion week back in September.
This is sensitive subject; I will attempt to approach this topic with caution.

In African- American history, the Mammy is often related to slavery and oppression, which is undeniably a delicate subject.  This kind of caricature does not reside well for African- Americans; as they are images that represented a time of clear social and racial injustice.

Case Study #1: Fashions' New Faux Pas?
Courtesy of The Macho Response
So you see the dilemma?

D&G needs to go into reputation management another aspect of P.R. that includes protecting and maintaining the brands’ public image. I have been reading extensively on this topic to form a very clear opinion on D&G, and this is not the first time the media scolded the company with “shame-on-you” tones. In 2007, the Advertising Standards Authority in Britain criticized their campaign billboard for insinuating gang rape, literally banning the pictures everywhere in Europe.
Case Study #1: Fashions' New Faux Pas?
January 2007, D&G ad sparked controversy in Europe
Among alleged tax evasion and banning photography stories, they can officially add the spring collection to their list of issues to deal with. Look, I get it, we all get it, fashion is art and in order to grab attention you must do something extraordinary to get the people talking. Now addressing the spring collection, I am sure D&G had no idea the controversy this was going to cause. Azealia Banks surely put her two cents in, maybe you agree, or maybe you don’t.
What would P.R. do?The Solution
So far the only method that D&G has done to mitigate the situation is explain, which is a great start. D&G is phenomenal well- respected brand in the fashion industry, but their reputation is mostly based on “style on the edge”.  In my opinion, the owners, Stefano Dolce and Domenico Gabbana should personally get involved with a formal press release. In this release they should address how one can possibly misinterpret the imagery, providing original sketches and prints. They can also include, if possible, the initial inspiration of these illustrations, which they did.  I understand that to remove these specific pieces from the collection would cost millions, but reputation, my friends has no price tag. My question to you Mr. Dolce, Mr. Gabbana and creative staff:
Where are the focus groups?
A diverse focus group would reveal that this area“art” is a huge risk.

Playing Devils' Advocate
Prior to this research, I had some basic knowledge of the Moorish culture and as woman of the Caribbean; I do not find these images offensive. A colleague of mine, Tapia is also not offended as an African – American because he could differentiate a Moor woman from Mammy. He pointed out that the D&G earrings had jeweled ornaments on her head, while Mammy simply had a headscarf. I understand how African Americans may feel these designers capitalized on their culture. D&G utilized their online magazine that explains the real inspiration behind the designs; photos below represent the Moorish women.
Case Study #1: Fashions' New Faux Pas?
Case Study #1: Fashions' New Faux Pas?
Images of Moorish Women
So what can we do now? We have revealed both sides of the issue with a splash of peer and personal opinion. My suggestion to the company is look both ways before crossing the street, and ensure that there’s not an angry mob on the other side. In other words, your intentions may be innocent but you never know how someone else will interpret your actions.Best of Luck to D&G

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