Chanel has issued an apology of sorts for the Metiers d’Art 2013/2014 collection show it staged in Dallas on Tuesday, which drew criticism (and equally passionate defenses) for appropriating symbols of Native American dress, including feathered headdresses, turquoise and Native-style prints and beadwork.
“The Chanel Paris-Dallas Metiers d’Art 2013/2014 collection is a celebration of the beauty of Texas. Native Americans are an integral part of Texas’ rich history and culture and the feather headdress, a symbol of strength and bravery, is one of the most visually stunning examples of creativity and craftsmanship,” a Chanel spokesperson wrote in an e-mail to Fashionista. “We deeply apologize if it has been misinterpreted or is seen as offensive as it was really meant to be a tribute to the beauty of craftsmanship.”
Note that Chanel is not apologizing for the collection itself, but rather suggests that the collection’s themes — meant, as Chanel says, as ‘a tribute to the beauty of craftsmanship’ — had been misinterpreted.
Still, given how often Native American communities have protested imitations of their dress, one has to wonder why Chanel, and designer Karl Lagerfeld, pursued the theme. It was only a year ago that Victoria’s Secret sparked a nationwide controversy for sending model Karlie Kloss down the runway with a colorful feathered headdress, for which both Kloss and Victoria’s Secret later apologized. (Victoria’s Secret even removed the look from its telecast.) Whether or not the Metiers d’Art collection was a tribute to Native craftsmanship, Lagerfeld must have known it would still offend a great number of Native Americans, and so we can only think he didn’t care.