Colonialism, Culture, and Copying
Cultural appropriation is a frequent theme in the world of fashion, from YSL's famous Ballets Russes collection to more or less any Dries Van Noten season. In today's New York Times, Cintra Wilson casts a Critical Shopper's eye at the exuberant creations of Christian Lacroix -- and while she chastises the designer (and his clientele) for failing to age gracefully, the boutique's excesses inspired a series of creative mixed metaphors. How often does slipping on a beaded bangle lead to colorful post-colonial political commentary?
While the rest of the developed world is circling Africa like a kettle of vultures, the French seem to be getting sentimental about the aesthetics of their old colonies. It's a casual approach to the perpetual ransacking of pre-conquered cultures, old icons conveted into trendy adornments. Old Gods are rendered symbolically meaningless at the moment that the dominant culture declares them adorable. High fashion 1, Africa 0.
For a lighter look at the connection between borrowed spirituality and material culture, enter the Blingdom of God. Or pile on a few baubles of your own and enjoy my favorite work by Yeats. Agree or disagree with his eloquent shrug at the end, there's no doubt that this coat's a classic: