Cultural Appropriation? Kendall Jenner Raises Eyebrows With A Controversial Hairstyle
Just when we thought this Jenner sister has made all the fashion statements there were to make, she gets the world buzzing with her latest set of snaps.
Do people have reason to be offended?
The 22-year-old Kendall's most recent Vogue photo shoot featured her in a floral—and even relatively conservative—Brock Collection frock. The frilled piece wasn't controversial in itself, but rather, it was the supermodel's hairstyle that stole the scene, garnering mixed reviews from her audience.
Having traded in her signature needle-straight locks for a voluminous teased updo, Kendall bore the brunt of the burden when cries of cultural appropriation surfaced. Many seemed to think that the hairstyle resembled an afro—a style that many African-Americans and other people of color wear for more meaningful reasons other than aesthetics.
The topic of cultural appropriation in fashion has become a sensitive topic in recent years, with hairstyles in particular reaching a boiling point when fashion powerhouse Valentino featured its models in its 2016 Spring show in cornrows—another hairstyle that men and women with African heritage proudly call their own.
People have since been hyper-aware of fashion committing a similar faux pas and are now unafraid to call out offenders. This time, it's Kendall, the shoot's photographer, Mikael Jansson, and Vogue itself that are in the line of fire. However, the accused is fighting back with justifications of artistic expression, and moreover, a thoroughly researched hairstyle that matched the inspiration behind the dress.
In a statement, Vogue claimed that the overall look, including the hairstyle, was simply a modernized take on fashion's "Edwardian" and "Gibson girl" looks, both of which feature women in heavily teased bouffants and tight curls. The fashion statement that was popular in the late Victorian era was more commonly donned by Caucasian women in Europe, and was chosen for Kendall given her dress' inspiration from the same historical period.
Similarly, the publication's representatives also claimed that inspiration was gathered from the teased back hairstyles of stylish women from the 60s and 70s. Nonetheless, Vogue ended their explanation with an apology and humbly asked for pardon from those they offended.
While much attention is being given to Vogue's possible misstep, others seem to be onboard with the idea that the photo was unoffensive. As of this writing, Kendall herself has not commented on the issue.
Kendall's shoot was in line with the celebration of the Council of Fashion Designers of America's 15th anniversary and the Vogue Fashion Fund Prize. The institutions gather the best of the best of the industry's rising talents, giving collaborators, professional connections, and mentors a venue to support each other and hone their skills.
Photo from @kendalljenner