More Evidence Fashion Has Run Out of Ideas

While the U.S. holiday widely known as Thanksgiving (November 25, this year) is not celebrated in France, the timing of this editorial of and by American designer Tom Ford in the current issue of French Vogue is ironic, to say the least. (Readers might recall that French Vogue handed over the December/January issue to Ford.)

We’ve written several posts as well as linked to many more at Native Appropriations, a l’allure garconniere, and Bitch magazine about the cultural and historical violence such acts of casual racism enact. Here’s one more link to Philip J. Deloria’s book Playing Indian. In it, he explains that the cooptation of Native objects and practices are at once “the bedrock for creative American identities, but . . . also one of the foundations (slavery and gender relations being two others) for imagining and performing domination and power in America.” Deloria’s book should be required reading for every American but also everyone in the fashion industry. (This means you too, TopShop.)




3 responses to “More Evidence Fashion Has Run Out of Ideas

  1. Awesome. Thank you for posting.

  2. This is an interesting post (as yours always are) and I also found the resources you pointed to informative, and led me to other blogs etc which discuss these issues.

    For a UK resident, there is a detachment from this specific conversation about the appropriation of Native American life as that hasn’t been in our particular remit, and I often wonder what the parallel would be in British history (due to our worryingly colonial past, it seems like there might be too many to choose form).

    However I was interested in your (and others’) views on Native appropriations during the 1960s and 1970s with the hippie and CND-type movements. These hippies and other peaceful movements (in the footage and imagery that I have seen, and also in the cultural construction of their persona) often seemed to borrow from Native cultures to display their anti-establishment credentials (possibly?) Would you say that it was a ‘borrowing’ and therefore potentially non-violent or would this be classed as appropriation? And does the spirit of the movement definitively affect our opinion of the borrowing or appropriation?

    • Thanks for the comments! The longer answers to your questions are found in Deloria’s book in which he points out that the varied history of “playing Indian” includes these “progressive” types (hippies, new agers, etc.). The problem isn’t in the WHO but in the HOW. All acts of playing Indian are part of a civilizationalist project that places real and imagined Indians into what Deloria calls “a disjunctive past . . . far outside the temporal bounds of modern society.” This is a colonialist trick that includes but also goes beyond playing Indian – see Johannes Fabian’s book Time and the Other or our posts discussing what Fabian calls “the denial of coevalness.” My post on Proenza Schouler’s fashion film mentions Fabian but with regard to a different context.

      Also, Mimi’s addressed this very question in the comments to another post on this topic – see Linkage: The Feather In Your “Native” Cap. Her points about intention vs. function might be of special interest to you. Hope this helps!