Why Is This Dress Causing Controversy At Cannes?

In addition to showcasing the highlights of next season's best looks, the red carpet often functions as a stage for public figures to make statements that go beyond what they're wearing; and, yes, sometimes those culturally or politically significant looks miss the mark. The latest ensemble to cause a stir on the red carpet was unveiled at this year's Cannes Film Festival, and people aren't happy.
Israel's Minister of Culture and Sports, Miri Regev, walked the carpet in a custom gown that was meant to celebrate the anniversary of the reunification and and liberation of Jerusalem, with a landscape of the city printed across its hem. But, as a range of European newspapers and plenty of folks on Twitter pointed out, the sentiment wasn't all that well received. The dress, designed by Swedish-based Israeli costume designer Aviad Arik Herman, features the Western Wall, the Tower of David, and the Dome of the Rock.
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In a statement to the The Guardian, Regev explained her reasoning behind the commissioned look. โ€œThis year we are celebrating 50 years since the liberation and reunification of Jerusalem,โ€ she told the publication. โ€œI am proud to celebrate this historic date through art and fashion, and I am happy that this work by Israeli designer Aviad Herman is so moving and honors the beautiful status of our eternal capital Jerusalem.โ€
Israel declared Jerusalem reunified after the Six-Day War (the Arab-Israeli war fought by Israel and Egypt, Jordan, and Syria) in 1967; some read into the timing of Regev's choice of dress and the fact that the War's anniversary is coming up in a couple of weeks. But Palestinians and the United Nations consider the eastern part of the city to be under Israeli occupation. And, to note: Regev is a member of the right-wing, Benjamin Netanyahu-led Likud Party, and she was at the festival as a guest of the Israel Pavilion. For a moment of "celebration through art and fashion," Regev's outfit seemed more like a political statement to many.
In addition to being called "colonial" and "tasteless," the look has spurred a range of negative reactions and memes of the dress. But, the designer of Regev's look remains positive, and he celebrating the step-and-repeat moment on his personal Instagram. While fashion and politics can often dovetail successfully, especially in today's political landscape, perhaps this is a look that could've been approached and executed a bit differently.
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