Popstar Katy Perry has come under fire for shoes that are said to resemble “blackface”, spurring the star to make a swift public apology.
The two styles of shoe, one heeled and one flat version called the Rue Face slip on loafers and the Ora Face block heel sandal, were on sale in US retailers but have since been removed from websites after a backlash.
The black colour option has been accused of blackface, with many people comparing it with the deeply problematic make-up and exaggerated facial features of the racist trope.
— Daniel 🌺🌆 (@daniellovesyooh) February 10, 2019
Regarding Katy Perry’s shoes; if you have to second guess whether a design is blackface/racist…it probably is. “Reaching” or not, information is too readily accessible for this to occur. #DoBetter
— Tia (@TiaHasTime) February 11, 2019
In a joint statement to PEOPLE, Perry and Global Brands Group said: “The Rue and the Ora were part of a collection that was released last summer in nine different colourways (black, blue, gold, graphite, lead, nude, pink, red, silver) and envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism.
“I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface. Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them from http://katyperrycollections.com.”
This is by no means the first time the fashion industry has been caught up in a blackface scandal. Just last week Gucci had to apologise for a balaclava jumper.
— Mikeisha Daché (@MikeishaDache) February 6, 2019
Gucci deeply apologizes for the offense caused by the wool balaclava jumper.
We consider diversity to be a fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected, and at the forefront of every decision we make.
Full statement below. pic.twitter.com/P2iXL9uOhs
— gucci (@gucci) February 7, 2019
Designer Dapper Dan, who works closely with Gucci, put a statement on Instagram saying: “There is no excuse nor apology that can erase this kind of insult.”
He added that the chief executive of Gucci was planning to visit him in Harlem, because “there cannot be inclusivity without accountability”.
And last year, a keychain by Prada was seen to resemble blackface – a charge also levelled towards a Moncler coat in 2016.
How does this keep happening with supposedly ‘luxury’ brands? No-one at Gucci clocked the similarity between the racist imagery of their $890 blackface jumper and Prada’s keychain – the latter of which was pulled from stores less than two months ago? Or do they just not care? pic.twitter.com/pNxTbuJeXV
— Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff (@CharlieBCuff) February 7, 2019
— GA Confidential (@ConfidentialGa) February 9, 2019
Both brands apologised and pulled the products after the backlash.
[1/2] #Prada Group abhors racist imagery. The Pradamalia are fantasy charms composed of elements of the Prada oeuvre. They are imaginary creatures not intended to have any reference to the real world and certainly not blackface.
— PRADA (@Prada) December 14, 2018
Moncler & FriendsWithYou pic.twitter.com/MJtJ54HOK6
— Moncler (@Moncler) July 15, 2016
These incidents have spurred famous faces like Spike Lee and TI to call for a boycott of Gucci and Prada.
For Lee, the key is for big brands to have black designers at the top, so they can stop these kinds of things from happening.
I don’t know what’s going on lately, but WTF is wrong with fashion designers!!! #blackface IS NOT OKAY!! It’s NOT a fashion statement!!!
— Princessa (@IMelaninBeauty) February 12, 2019
– Press Association