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A Message to Christian Dior – “Africa is NOT your Playground”

Christian Dior’s “Cruise 2020 collection Launch”, an event that took place the last week of April in Marrakech, Morocco, was met with an onslaught of disapproval on social media.

Dior’s idea of “a new global vision to incorporate and promote the prestige of local African craftsmanship into high fashion design” was highly criticized. In addition to the concept of a French label profiting from the craft of Africa, the bold cultural appropriation was on the receiving end of outrage, and further heightened when Dior shared on Instagram videos of the launch showing the designs worn by non-African models.

Dior’s motive, in all respects including its slogan “celebration of African savoir-faire” was questioned.

The plunder of Africa’s tangible and non-tangible wealth since colonialism and now in the era of neo-colonialism, astonishingly persists.  Africa is continually the entryway to western adventure, exploitation, plunder and wealth accumulation.

In the case of Dior and its new adventure through Africa, who gave Dior authority over Africa, and permission to employ Africa’s name and culture for potential gain in the global fashion marketplace? Why would Dior, a reputable luxury brand, think cultural appropriation (a form of exploitation) is acceptable?

As capitalism extends its arm, and the world looks to Africa as a destination for fashion production and consumption, it seems like a convenient and potentially beneficial approach for Dior.

Well, the young generation of Africans are telling Dior: “This won’t fly!” Fed-up by immoral opportunists, this generation is taking a firm position, safeguarding its continent and heritage, and loudly telling the world “Enough!”

Luxury Connect Africa, an African consultancy agency is one of the platforms on Instagram that sent a firm message to Dior (and the world over). Their overarching message: “This generation of Africans won’t stand by and swallow the continuous distortion and misrepresentation of our heritage anymore!

“Dior and the rest of the fashion world need to shake off this outdated patronizing stance on Africa and save themselves from the embarrassing ignorance that emanates each time any major fashion brand decides to “do” Africa. If this is too tasking then please leave Africa alone and allow proper handling and translation that safeguards our authentic heritage which we are still striving to re-build and elevate post Western colonialism, slavery, genocide, apartheid, wars, exploitation and all the imposed atrocities that our precious motherland has been bleeding from since its first encounter with the West. AFRICA IS NOT A PLAYGROUND. So please stop playing with our past history, present reality and future heritage”.

 

To read more of Luxury Connect Africa’s comments, see below.

 

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When @dior decides to “celebrate” African fashion craftsmanship what do they do? . 1. They call a “French” (alas colonial heritage) “expert of African textiles” (because Africans don’t know their heritage by the way). . 2. And together they decide to use the “wax print,” one of the most visible symbols of Western colonialism in Africa, adopted by Europeans from Asia and imposed on subjugated African regions from the 19th century onwards (which by the way heavily appropriated authentic traditional hand-woven textile patterns and exposed them to extinction). . 3. And they join forces with @uniwaxciv a non-African owned company belonging to VliscoGroup (headquartered in the Netherlands & one of the chief benefactors of Europe’s colonial predatory market policies in Africa) with a factory in Ivory Coast which continues to mine this colonial heritage to date. . 4. And then they get their “French expert” to be the spokesperson of millions of African women about their own fashion & cultural heritage (as has been the Western norm for centuries), through interviews with the world’s media, even as Dior continues its elementary mistakes including referring to Africa as a country. . 5. And finally they get respected foreign journalists and writers who are not versed in Africa’s fashion & textile heritage & historical symbolism to spin stories laced with praises of these mediocre efforts & thrust this well-oiled false narrative at an even less-informed public. . Well, this generation of Africans won’t stand by & swallow the continuous distortion & misrepresentation of our heritage anymore. The so-called “African Wax Print” is NOT African nor is it representative of our fashion & textile “craftsmanship” heritage, but part of Europe’s colonial left-overs in Africa which our new generation of African designers & creatives are continuously shunning.There are 1.2 billion Africans who are neither in tune with, aware of nor grateful for this “African homage” effort. . We wonder if Dior in their fascination with Africa’s “craftsmanship” forgot to actually speak to “Africans” who are the only people that truly know & own their heritage & narrative? . CONTINUED IN COMMENTS #DiorCruise

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By Amira Ali