Walter Van Beirendonck Sends A "Stop Racism" Message Down The Runway

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wvb_fw14_007Photo: MCV/Firstview.
Perhaps there's no such thing as just one kind of response to witnessing racism. Anger, sadness, disappointment, and confusion are all possibilities. But, Walter Van Beirendonck's reaction may be one of the most unique takes we've seen to date — and it occurred on the runway for his new men's collection at Paris Fashion Week. While Van Beirendonck's designs aren't short on fanciful prints and colors, the look that stole the spotlight in the whole presentation was a larger-than-life headdress with the words "Stop Racism" splashed across the front in red paint.

As The Cut, as well as other news sources, have pointed out, the Native American-inspired headgear might have been intended as message to the house of Chanel, who sent its models down the runway in headdresses and feathers for its recent Dallas show. But, we think it's quite unfair to reduce this response down to one designer. The fashion industry at large has a history of cultural appropriation and prejudice. We've seen it in magazine editorials, on the runway, and have even heard models like Jourdan Dunn speak out about how diversity is viewed as more of a "trend" than the norm. And, seeing as this has been going on for years, it's important to recognize and acknowledge these instances when they happen and stop accepting them any longer. Perhaps Van Beirendonck's measure is a shocking tactic, but we think it's kind of awesome to see him make a "get the picture?" statement in a way that forces the audience to take notice and not just sweep it under the rug. After all, fashion is a major form of self-expression, and sometimes it helps when the message is explicit. At least, that's the hope. (The Cut)