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São Paulo Fashion Week Ends With Controversy About Racism and Cultural Appropriation

09/01/2017 - 10h57

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PEDRO DINIZ
GIULIANA MESQUITA
FROM SÃO PAULO

Seemingly absent from the catwalks since 2013 (when protests calling for more black models took place at the São Paulo Fashion Week), racism and arguments about cultural appropriation came to the surface once again at the São Paulo Biennial, in Ibirapuera park.

Rapper Evandro Fióti, the brother of rapper Emicida as well as his partner at the LAB clothing company, complained about racial discrimination on social media after a security guard at the São Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW) denied him entry on the very day his brand was going to display its latest collection.

"Being black means getting barred by the security guard even when you own the brand and you're wearing the wristband", Evandro posted before saying that he was only allowed to enter after the security guard "spoke to his superiors".

Fióti did not respond for comment. The fashion organization put a gag on the incident and stated that "measures were taken" by the organization and the company in charge of security at the event.

The return of designer Liliane Rebehy and her brand Coven to the catwalk was marked by clichés and ideas that revealed a poor understanding of the concept of cultural appropriation.

Ms. Rebehy, the designer from Minas Gerais, based her collection on the pictures of African communities taken by Jackie Nickerson. An initial survey of her clothes and the patterns they contained evoked the clothes used in religious ceremonies by the Bijago ethnicity, which is from Guinea-Bissau.

When it came to cultural appropriation, the designer couldn't have been more emphatic: "That doesn't exist. In my opinion, appropriation means copying. These weren't copies".

"It's very upsetting to see brands that use my culture without approaching the members of that culture first. The problem isn't displaying it, but turning us into products for white people", said Jean Woolmay Denson, 21, a Haitian model.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

Read the article in the original language

Rahel Patrasso/Xinhua
Model on catwalk wearing Coven
Model on catwalk wearing Coven

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