I never thought noose would be a keyword on my fashion blog! Burberry accessorized its latest collection with a noose. Cue, outcry: “Suicide is not fashion.” Cue, brand damage control: “We will reflect on this, learn from it and put in place all necessary actions to ensure it does not happen again.” While designer Riccardo Tisci claims the theme was just nautical, the corporate gaslighting from the luxury industry has been nauseating this season. This is not a noose. This is not blackface. That is not blackface. You’re seeing things. Do not believe your self… Tru$t the brand. Who’s buying it?!
I first saw a “fashionable” noose in 2015 at Mens’ Fashion Week in Toronto. Designer Patrick Salonga styled his lookbook with it. In my review, I said: “No, just, no. Hardly any amount of context could warrant this in pret-a-porte.” Since, the context has gotten grimmer with much racialized violence, including the unsolved 2018 lynching of Danye Jones in Ferguson. You might think Burberry is far from #Ferguson with its -isms and -phobias. Burberry “disagrees”. In an Instagram post deleted amid the noose controversy, Tisci dedicated “this show to the youth of today, to them having the courage to scream for what they believe in, for them to find the beauty in expressing their voice.” How woke. I refuse to believe that someone with creative stature of Tisci does not understand cross-cultural significance of a noose. It’s so “iconic” and yet zeitgeist, it featured prominently in the infamous assault on/by Jussie Smollett! In 2019, the only reason to put a noose on a runway is to trigger multiple collective trauma(s) for outrage marketing. Which is no f*cking reason at all.
Beyond “racial insensitivity“, Burberry’s move also met backlash on the grounds of basic mental health. Fashion industry had lost promising talent to suicide by hanging: Alexander McQueen, L’Wren Scott, Kate Spade and others … The cover pic for this post is a promo still from an Oscar-winning musical comedy Western Cat Ballou featuring Jane Fonda in a noose. It was top-ten box office hit in 1965. Flipping the script, so to say, from contemporary #BlackLivesMatter imagery to whitewashed iconography of Hollywood, the noose is still an unsettling unwelcome sight. If luxury corporations cannot relate to historic testimonies from people of color, perhaps, they’ll acquiesce a white woman in distress. Hence, I’d like to upgrade my noose-in-fashion justification margins from hardly any to absolutely zero.