The Wigs at Louis Vuitton

I’m oversensitive. I can admit it.

bighairmain

I’ve been told that my whole life. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten better at covering it up, but I’m still a pretty sensitive Piscean soul. Quick to feel empathy, quick to love, quick to be offended. So maybe I’m not the best bella to respond to the hot new style strutting down the runway at the Louis Vuitton show at Paris Fashion Week. The style statement? Oversize afro wigs on all the models. Which are being called brilliantly cartoonish by the WWD.

Like I said, I’m oversensitive. To me, my hair isn’t comic relief, it isn’t “cartoonish,” it isn’t a style statement. It grows out of my head this way. So my general response to people in afro wigs, at sports games, on Halloween, is The People’s Eyebrow and a we-are-not-amused attitude. It irks me. Am I wrong?

I saw these pics over at one of my favorite blogs, NY Mag’s The Cut, and my eyes practically rolled themselves on out of my face. Really, LV? Afro wigs are what’s hot in the streets now? Is this an attempt to be more inclusive?

Hey – at least there was one model of color in the show, right? Edited 2:45 p.m. — I stand corrected — there were several models of color in the show. Click here to see the complete WWD slideshow, more black models hit the runway towards the show’s finale, it appears.

LV5

I dunno, y’all. Talk amongst yourselves. Am I being oversensitive, as per usual? Or should I be delighted that afros are making waves at Paris Fashion Week this year?

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Comments

  1. Does seem like it’s tongue in cheek. Hate the bows. I con’t see the point of it. It makes them look like Barbie dolls that claim to be created in blackness. I dunno what to make of it.

    Came via Twitter, @nordette_verite
    but you’ve been in my BlogLines feed for a while.
    Also linked to another of your post at African-American Books Examiner, bit.ly/CaQh

  2. Nope, sharing your dislike of this display. What is naturally ours is up for ridicule once again, which falls right in line with our hair not being ‘professional’ in its natural state. Of course it isn’t, it is cartoonish, like the patterns of our clothing, the size of our noses, our lips, and so much else about us.

    Which is why I don’t tend to follow the standard ‘beauty scene’ because it generally isn’t inclusive of us at all, unless we can alter ourselves or happen to be born with, features that fit “their” idea of beauty.

  3. Julia_Claudine_Deveraux says:

    Hey Bella!

    I saw these photos yesterday and my mouth dropped. I too think it’s cartoonish and over the top. Some naturals looked at this an “achievement”, I looked it as another way to mock us. They look more like trained poodles than afro wearers.

  4. I actually like the wigs. The look as a whole (wigs, makeup and bows), looks very doll like. I don’t think it had anything to do with making fun of black people or people that choose to wear afros. And truthfully, how many of us actually wear our hair out in a perfectly rounded, picked out afro? I know there’s a lot of talk about hair right now with “Good Hair” coming out this weekend, but, I don’t think that Louis Vuitton/Marc Jacobs was trying to tie into that.

  5. I have mixed feelings but then again I am pretty much on the line of hating the mainstream fashion industry. I think my annoyance comes more from the fashion worlds reception of the afro wigs vs the use of the wigs themselves. Calling them brilliantly cartoonish when clearly these wigs define a racial group of people in ludicrous but then again look at the history of mainstream fashion. Blacks and other non whites are often viewed as “exotic” or somehow meant to be parodied, mocked or imitated in the most unflattering of ways. You are not being overly sensitive, maybe LV and WWD should take a note from your book of consciousness.

  6. I don’t blame LV but WWD should have been more careful about wording, maybe. However it took a long time for our shapes, skin tone and yes hair to become mainstream. Now that it is I think we have to embrace it, because it is a compliment.

  7. I’m usually a very sensitive person as well, yet…I have to admit I don’t mind the afro wigs. The thing I do mind is that they used so few black girls in the show, so…yeah, it looks a bit lopsided…the message (if there is one) gets lost in their lack of authenticity. The show strikes me as very artistic, as do most of Paris shows. Afros are hardly ever done on white models during fashin shows, but long flowing weaves are routinely done on black ones…and while the comparison is a bit slight, I dont’ mind either.

  8. Nothing wrong with the afro’s they used, I don’t get why people take things so personal.

    And afrobella there was actually 5 black models in the show. Chanel Iman, Jeneil Williams, Lyndsey Scott,Rose Cordero, Shena Moulton.

  9. Hey Glam – do you have a link or somewhere where I can see the 5 black models in the show? I thought I’d seen all the models from the photos I saw, and I only saw one. Thanks!

  10. hi bella! once again you’ve elegantly stated exactly what I was thinking. my first thought was — I guess they got around using black women by plopping afros on all the white ones.

  11. Nicolette says:

    I see nothing wrong with this. Their just big afro sized wigs…nothing more nothing less… I don’t see how this is once againg making fun of black people. Maybe some one could explain how this is offensive?

  12. Hey Bella,

    It’s been a while. Hope you are still enjoying your hair ties!

    I am a PhD Communication professor and I teach pop culture. On the surface, something like this looks harmless. It is all in the name of fashion and fun. But when you look at the state of black hair, black identities, black imagery, and blacks in the fashion industry, this carries extreme negative weight within our communities. We accept this as being an okay mockery of black hair styles, but it isn’t.
    @ Jamie: People still do were their hair in huge picked out afros. I see them all of the time here in LA, and I rocked one between sets of locks.

    To call it cartoonish is to dehumanize an entire history of fashion in black communities.

    So again, on the surface, we can look at it as homage to black hair, but without talking about the incident with our children and loved ones and bring critical awareness to the imagery it suggests, we can continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes of us.

    And let me finish by posing this question:
    What we see on the runway is supposed to be an overdone, exaggerated version of what we will see in stores the next season to get people talking. Since when did we see anything go from the runway straight to retail in places that everyday people shop? And even closer, do we expect to see afros that big on the heads of white girls this winter? doubt it. So what does that tell us? It is a mockery.

  13. Lotta “Other”-ing happening here.

  14. how about the irony of black models wearing afro wigs when they all have relaxed, weaved and straightened their own natural hair into submission because they need to have straight hair to get a job in the fashion industry.

    cartoonish afro wigs offend me. hiring a show full of gorgeous curly headed girls with huge natural afros would have been inspired.

  15. I hate it.
    Sometimes I wear my fro chunky, sometimes I round it out.

    I am not a cartoon.

  16. Usually I’m not a fan of afro wigs when they are used as an object of humor. If LV didn’t intend it that way then I think it’s fine (not loving the doll bow in the center but hey)…but the reviewer saying it’s “cartoonish” does frizz my napps. grrrrr boooooo!

  17. Aba DeGraft-Hanson says:

    Please SPEAK, professor! I agree completely.

  18. I agree with you. They are a bit offensive. I don’t like them one bit.

  19. I agree with Amber in all that is portrayed about black people we should look deeper at the impact of perceptions and underlying messages of these images. I don’t consider myself to be oversensitive and I didn’t like the wigs either nor the author’s distasteful description “cartoonish.” I mean really? It was nice to see brown faces on the runway though.

  20. I wear an afro wig to mask my online persona from my real-life job. I also wear an elvis mask and a rasta dredlock wig. Other folks I know wear afros because they represent an era of freedom and individual expression. Dare I even suggest you check out afro-squad.com? He links to me on occasion.

  21. I just saw your tweet and the cover of yesterday’s WWD almost at the same time. My reaction was neutral so no I am not offended. Fashion Shows are often “over the top” to make the biggest waves in the press…and after it is the French!!

  22. The white ladies look washed out. But the black one looks like a living doll.

    I myself don’t have a problem with it. I think too many black women care way too much about what other people think. It makes us all look sad, miserable and pathetic. Good grief. Ugh.

  23. Just a thought:
    Black folk seem to be just as obsessed with LV and other high end design houses as we are with hair…
    What if…and work with me here…

    what if this was a STATEMENT…satirical…to see if BLK folk would CONTINUE to buy LV (and knock offs) despite the evident snub.

    Just a thought…

  24. Is it the use of the large Afros that is offensive or the fact that somebody else called them cartoonish that is the problem?

    Is using “our texture” on white woman in a way that “they” may see as cartoonish really making it a mockery of black woman? I am a little confused

    While I think that describing large afros as cartoonish is rediculous, I must admit that seeing super large afros on dolled-up white models, does look a bit silly to me… sorry it just does. Between their outfits, their faces,the patterns on the fabrics, and the bows it just looks silly. As a fairly young black woman, seeing these models do not make me feel bad about myself, my hair, or being black. those WHITE models in their clownish outfits with huge afros look crazy, not me.
    I am an adult, I know that in general “typical black” features are not seen as the most beautiful, especially in western cultures, but what the heck do I care. You think my hair is cartoonish….ok….. you think my dark skin is ugly….alright… you don’t like the shape of my lips or the curve of my hips….fine. It’s all fine because I am not wasting my time changing how you feel about me, when I feel great about myself. If “we” keeping looking for acceptance and validation from others, we will never progress.
    So, let them say what they want about white models in afros. you are right, it does look ridicules on them… but it looks damn good on me.

  25. I feel you Bella, & I’ll be the first to jump up if I think someone’s is trying to get “cute” with the afro image. But honestly, I don’t care about this one. It’s not really that deep. They exaggerate all types of styles on the runway every season & this was just the one they chose this time. A bit insensitive? Perhaps, but I didn’t get that it was done to put fros in a negative light. Dunno, that’s my take.

    Peace.

  26. I can understand how you feel and believe it is your right to feel that way.

    I don’t dislike it but I don’t love it either. I think overall it’s way too much which makes it cartoonish. But I would love for us to take advantage of this.

    When something is on the runway it often turns into a trend whether we like it or not. Let’s make sure that we are flaunting who we are, what we have and our culture that has contributing to trends rather than run away from it to let someone else make it their own.

    My statement: This started with us and we are happy to share it with you. But don’t forget where it came from and know I won’t let you.

  27. I agree with Nichole and the Professor.

    Also, it’s not about looking for validation, it’s about letting others know that our heritage/culture should be respected. Our features should not be the brunt of a joke.

    Additionally, when I first saw the pictures I thought the models looked silly. But I’m not really into runway fashion so I’m rarely impressed.

  28. CoilsnKinks says:

    Absolutely love Mrs. McC’s post. and I completely agree with her. Those models definitely look crazy but I surely do not. In fact I went to a event last night with a luscious big natural style and was complimented on it time and time again. I think that we are at a better place with our styles and perceptions because we like ourselves and our personalities and are not so focused on what ppl of other races think of us. I see your point Afrobella but I would let this one slide with a duly noted sense of nappy happiness!

  29. I feel the same way. In a way it is flattering, but I mean an afro can grow naturally, what is up with the wigs. I wrote a post too:http://kasalina.wordpress.com/2009/10/08/marc-simulacra-the-ad-guide/

  30. I saw some more pics from the event on another site and all of the hair was over the top. I thought the pics were pretty cool.

  31. Why not just get models with afros? There are PLENTY of runway worthy naturals on the streets of any major city USA.
    To close to blackface if you ask me.

    -Earth

  32. In this particular context, I don’t see a problem with the afro wigs. It was a style choice for a runway show.

    However, I think those cheap afro wigs and Rasta hats with phony dreadlocks coming out of them are totally disrespectful and out of order. Not just by virtue of existing, but they’re usually worn with a clownish, dare-I-say “cartoonish” attitude. Like a joke at our expense. Not cool, not cool at all.

  33. I think that for the greater part the majority of you are looking into this too far. There isn’t always a deeper, underlying message. The show had nothing to do with racial issues, you can’t make everything about yourself. Its just an afro.

  34. “I think that for the greater part the majority of you are looking into this too far. There isn’t always a deeper, underlying message. The show had nothing to do with racial issues, you can’t make everything about yourself. Its just an afro.”

    Exactly,!!!!!!!!!!

  35. Thank you Mr. Rock for bringing humor to our condition… See what you had a part in starting; afro wigs today and perhaps “black face” tomorrow. Look beneath the imagery and what is the message?; I wonder if this will be consolation to those young girls out there who wonder why they don’t have “good hair”…

  36. Its no big deal. Designers do this all the time. Its a trend. Sometimes its big frizzy hair or slicked down chignons. Heck whats wrong with it?? The white girls are wearing afros! lol

  37. If it was black face I would have a problem and didn’t M’onique have a huge ‘fro to interview Chris Rock about his movie?

    Those models look like poodles but the runway is about being over the top and in this case literally….don’t blow a gasket.

  38. Katherine says:

    I think maintaining natural hair is a lifestyle not a trend (or wig) to be put on to look like a “cartoon” for adoring fashionistas for a seasonal show. I might have dug it if the clothes complemented the hair better however.

  39. I’m kind of mixed on this. Though I understand where you’re coming from, I took this as a more of Harajuku type inspiration, and frankly I’m all for it if they don’t use straight or slicked back hair.

  40. …and they kinda look like the character “Gilly” from SNL.. no?

  41. For me personally there’s nothing wrong with the wigs.. .Then again, I’m of the mindset that the dead cells on one’s head known as hair are…just hair. One fashion season it’s an afro wig; another season it’s an 18th century pompadour-style wig and another season it’ll be a long stringy hippie hair wig. Just hair. JUST hair…

    There is nothing wrong with describing the runway wig as cartoonish–it is, after all exaggerated in size (the article says each of those super-afros consisted of 5 afro wigs combined into one) and clearly not the natural hair of the models. The writer didn’t call afro hair cartoonish, nor did he call black people cartoonish; he called the runway wigs cartoonish.

    And why are some people comparing these wigs to blackface??? That’s a ridiculous stretch! A black girl can have straight hair, but a white girl who wears an afro is compared to a racist who wears blackface??? Come on now!

  42. I’m glad you brought this up. I am similarly conflicted. Part of me thinks, “It’s a fashion show, and of course fashion shows have visual influences from all over the place.” Most are exaggerated. And it doesn’t seem like the Afros are being made mocked, but then again, there is an otherness to it.

    I can’t put my finger on why I feel a bit unsettled, but many of the comments here sum it up: There’s so much room for interpretation in the show’s look, and such a history of natural hair being mocked, that the absence of saying “this is beautiful” leaves people unsure as to Marc Jacobs’ intention.

    I kept wondering what the models, especially the black models, thought about these wigs. Fun? Awkward? There’s no way to know, but I wish I could.

  43. no i dont your being overly sensitive. i dont think fros are cartoonish but those outfits are.

  44. Blogreader says:

    Nope, I don’t think you’re being oversensitive. There’s a scene in “Lovely and Amazing” where a young black girl shows her white adopted sister a label with a clown with a fright wig on it that resembles her hair.

  45. I dislike the wigs and also agree with the Professor and Mrs. McC.

  46. Fashion is fantasy, that’s all. This is simply art. Now whether you like this art is your personal choice, but the artist is free to express himself or herself as she chooses. Mostly everyone knows that what you see on the runway is rarely what you see walking down the street. It’s fun, it’s free, it’s art. What I would like to know is why a lot of Black folk seem to be obsessed with LV? Why do a lot of Black folk even care how others “portray” us?

  47. I don’t have a problem with the fros or the styling. I don’t see white women getting mad when we relax our hair so this isn’t really diffrent. I guess the issue if there is any is the WWD calling it “cartoonish” which on some level I have to agree with a fro on a European girl looks silly and comical,

  48. I’m not offended by the wigs at all. I think they’re pretty funky, and I see them as merely an accessory and not a mockery. Do “they” get offended when “we” wear straight-haired wigs or lace fronts? Just sayin…

  49. Isn’t fashion always a bit of a mockery? Do all of you complain when plaid, which are a registered ancient tribal symbol, is used? Perhaps complain when white women tan, because everyone agrees that pale isn’t appropriate for summer?

    Could you consider that fashion shows tend to be outrageous and that I, a white woman, did not see the large afros as clownish at all? I do not associate a clown wig with black people, much less as an insult, as some of you apparently do.

    I think afros are amazingly beautiful and while these are not real, it isn’t something I think looks funny, but rather just fun and fantastic.

    I think cries about this being a mockery of a rich culture are tellingly self-conscious and I find that incredibly sad.

  50. It is only “cartoonish” (doll-like is how I’d phrase it) because of the bows. I think it is a cool idea, nothing offensive or degrading about it whatsoever!

    Instead of everyone being so hypersensitive and whiny, embrace the fact that a huge designer like LV chose to style their models in bad ass afros!

  51. I dont see anything wrong with this either. It’s not like the fashion industry does not make other races features into cartoony images. Its art…anything goes and everything is exaggerated.

    If we were to analyze everything from the point of view ” they might be out to get us” one could always come up with an explanation that fits.

  52. @ Mae- :))) good attitude!

  53. I study fashion, but you don’t need to study fashion to know that most high end fashion shows are over top,the people that are offended obviously have not seen a lot of high fashion shows because if they have they would not be offended, maybe if you looked at other catwalks by other designers like mulberry at london fashion week you would of seen they had a doll like/cartoonish image with the models and they had big frizzy hair, look at link
    http://www.londonfashionweek.co.uk/designers_catwalk.aspx?designerid=225&seasonid=18#pic0
    seems as if black women on this site seem to be overly sensitive

    to no.32 EARTHSEED
    “Why not just get models with afros? There are PLENTY of runway worthy naturals on the streets of any major city USA”

    what you said would be more hramfull to black models than good.why don’t we change the world afro to straight hair, There are plenty of women on the streets of u.s.a who have naturally long straight hair why use models like Naomi Campbell who has there hair straighten and is always wearing extensions to do catwalk shows and magazines, when you can get the real thing?

  54. ONE designer plopped afros on the model’s heads. ONE. 1. Uno.

    No kidding you are quick to be offended.

  55. SuperStarr says:

    I guess they figure,brown people are walking around making a mockery of their brand we’ll make a mockery of brown people(Not that brown people are the only ones) ,but why are we on blast?? I tell you what you can do,Don’t Buy LV cause if this is not a reason to be appalled what is?Buy a fly canvas AfroBella bag. Got some of those I’ll buy.lol..Watching a Fake story about some balloon kid with thirsty parents while President Obama is addressing the nation about rebuilding New Orleans gotta wonder about the timing on that. YES IT’S OFFENSIVE Duh!!One designer is One 1 Uno to many.

  56. I agree with what someone said earlier – its kinda ironic that the black models need to get their hair relaxed just to book a job, and then model what their hair would look like because LV deems it fashionable and marketable atm. smh.

  57. I undurstand what you mena Bella and i have had my fro all my life and i think its cool to see it al LV’s show. ofcourse it is to make themselves stand out, dont think it has anything to do with bein’in style. but i like it haha.
    dont care what te papers or whatever say!
    Lovely to see the blond and red fro’s cool.
    and if their moking (witch i don’t think so) so be it.

    Honestly i’ve gotten the most mean commments and stuff bout the fro from black people :S.. so whateva..

    I LOVE IT!

  58. Yes you are being o.ver.ly sensitive. It’s fashion, it’s drama, it’s art, it’s extravagance, it’s outlandish. It is purposely cartoonish. That doesn’t mean it’s supposed to reflect an attitude about Black people. It is not a racial thing. It’s not about you. And yes, I am Black.

  59. I styled a similar look for a promotional event I ran in NYC. I think the look is stand-out, doll-like and fun!

    “FabGab”:http://fabgabblog.com/2010/03/marc-jacobs-copied-my-styling/

  60. I don’t find this offensive, really. It’s kind of artsy, and it seems it was meant to be fun and different… I mean, you guys remember this, right? http://narratethenatural.wordpress.com/2009/02/09/korean-fro-flavour/
    I found that flattering. Unusual, but flattering, though obviously a different context…

    However, I have to disagree with people who say it’s silly to be offended. I am not offended by this, but i understand why someone with different experiences and a different perspective might be. The comparison to black women who wear weaves just doesn’t cut it, we live in a society where blacks are a minority, and women with afro textured hair an even further minority. It means something different when a white person wears an afro than when a black woman wears straight hair. It shouldn’t, but given the history of our society, it simply does.

  61. SkinnyDipping says:

    I’m with you, Bella. I didn’t want to do it, but I call Shenanigans on Louis Vuitton. If LV were really trying to be inclusive and celebratory of Black hair, I doubt the wigs would have been so gigantic, oddly colored, and freakishly adorned with a giant bow.

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