February 14, 2011

Fashion line with a Native touch

A look at a fashion line by designer Adam Lippes:

ADAM Fall 2011:  Native American Inspired

By Natalie Matthews[H]is inspiration was a recent trip to the National Museum of the American Indian. But sticking to the recipe, Lippes added just the right dash of native, not a dousing.

Heaviest references came in the outerwear (wool ponchos and anoraks) and skirts (striped in alternating bands of fur and feathers). But when coupled with his easily sellable separates (hand knit sweaters, wide leg pants, and of-the-moment chambray shirts), these pieces weaved a thread of Native American through the collection without snagging it on a creative vision too niche for his laid back, real girl customer. In that way, Lippes managed to pay homage to the Native American culture–while still remaining true to his tribe of customers.
Comment:  These clothes have subtle Native references, all right. If writer Matthews hadn't pointed them out, I probably wouldn't have noticed them.

This is the kind of cultural appropriation most people don't have a problem with. It's clearly more of an homage than a direct steal.

But Lippes and Matthews still contribute to the stereotypical notion that there's only one Native culture. Ponchos and anoraks? From two unrelated cultures (Inca and Inuit) some 15,000 miles apart?

That would be like combining Iceland and India. After all, they both speak an Indo-European language and have Aryan roots. That means they're basically the same thing, right?

For more on the subject, see Pendleton Spreads Native Designs.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Um, technically, Aryan was the language family that became Indo-European. Yeah, those Nazis obsessed over a language family.

And of course, it's not even that. Eskimo-Aleut languages are pretty much unrelated to Quechuan languages; you even have a few nutbars in linguistics trying to link Eskimo-Aleut with Nostratic, which theoretically includes Indo-European languages along with Afro-Asiatic languages (e.g., Arabic, Amharic), Kartvelian (You probably don't know of any examples.), Dravidian (a lot of languages in southern India and Sri Lanka), Uralic (i.e., Magyar, Finnish, Estonian, Sami), and Altaic (i.e., Japanese, Korean, Mongolian, Turkish). But even Nostratic is more accepted than Greenberg's "Amerind hypothesis", which practically everyone who views Eskimo-Aleut languages as Nostratic accepts. (They tend to link Athabascan languages to Chinese and North Caucasian languages.) Of course, the Amerind hypothesis tends to be one relying on gut feelings.