By now, we know the good people at the house of Chanel do not give two hoots if your'e offended by their exorbitantly-priced accessories. The French label offered the most tepid of non-apologies for the poorly-placed Native American-inspired headdress they sent down the runway for the Texas-themed Pre-Fall 2013 show. Now, Uncle Karl is back at it, adding quilted petrol can-shaped shoulder bags to the house's latest Cruise 2015 offerings, because MIDDLE EASTERN OIL. HAR DE HAR.
Sigh. As we mentioned yesterday, the bags are gimmicky at best, and culturally insensitive at worst. As Styleite points out, less than 7% of the United Arab Emirate's revenue actually comes from oil. The reference, then, is simplistic. Dubai has such a rich culture, surely Lagerfeld and his team would have been able to find a more relevant symbol to update with the Chanel touch. But this is fashion after all, and as we've come to learn, we can safely predict that this won't be the last time we'll see culturally questionable choices at a runway show. And since Karl likes to stage his shows in "exotic" locations, we wouldn't be surprised to see more side-eye worthy, interlocked C-emblazoned accessories in our future, for example…
- Jamaica: a ganja baggie
- Japan: a bento box trunk
- China: rice paddy hats
- Colombia: a crystal-embellished coke ring
- Cuba: a cigar-shaped clutch
- Mexico: a taco roll camping (or glamping, since it's Chanel) knapsack
- Morocco: pearl-tasseled fez hats
- Australia: koala fur coats
Here's a plea from us to you, Mr. Lagerfeld: quit while you're ahead. We appreciate your enthusiasm, and understand that you get inspired by the places you visit or choose to stage your shows. That's fine. In fact, that's awesome. But as a designer, it's your duty to think forward and think creatively–not rely on tired tropes and iconography that wind up undermining the very culture you're trying to celebrate. We get that the gas cans were put forth with a wink. But they came across more like a bad joke told by a drunk uncle at a family reunion, rather than a tongue-in-cheek commentary on wealth in the UAE.
All we're saying is, next time, dig deeper. And for goodness sake, maybe even take a look at this site if you're still not sure if you're stepping into problematic territory.