August 27, 2014

Trelise Cooper's models in headdresses

Fashion Week: Feathers flying

By Morgan TaitThe inclusion of an Indian-style headdresses in designer Trelise Cooper's fashion show last night has ruffled feathers and brought accusations of racism.

Dame Trelise's show, as part of New Zealand Fashion Week, featured "70s bohemian vibes" with models wearing native-American and Canadian First Nations' feathered headdresses.

The garments--which have deep cultural significance--quickly drew a backlash from show guests and online.

New Zealand film director Taika Waititi was amongst those offended by the move.

"I think I understand what Trelise means by "70s vibes"--a time when it was cool to be culturally insensitive and racism was super awesome. Nice throw back to better times, babe, we native people celebrate with you," he wrote on a photo of a headdress wearing model posted to the Trelise Cooper Facebook page.

Melbourne-based lawyer and journalist Di White took to Twitter to express her thoughts.

"Hey @trelisecooper, Indian headdresses are not yours to wear. This is cultural appropriation & super offensive," she wrote.

The message was re-tweeted more than 50 times.

Also on Twitter, Kiwi comedian Jeremy Elwood--who hails from Canada--made his distaste about the items known.

"@trelisecooper Actually I think you'll find those are racist, plagiarized, white trash hipster vibes. You should be ashamed."

What does a Native American headdress have to do with fashion in New Zealand? Kiwi designer forced to apologise after including Indian accessory in her show

Dame Trelise Cooper has caused an uproar by featuring Indian feather headdresses in her show at New Zealand fashion week

By Richard Shears and Leesa Smith
A leading New Zealand fashion designer has sent critics and fans on the warpath after staging a show featuring American Indian feather headdresses.

Dame Trelise Cooper has now issued a grovelling apology for featuring the spectacular headdresses in her show as part of New Zealand fashion week, admitting it was a mistake due to her ignorance.

Critics took to social media to pan the headdress feature as culturally obnoxious, one asking if it would now be in order to bind Dame Trelise's feet like the Chinese used to do to women in times gone by.

In an apology she posted on Facebook, the fashion guru said today that she genuinely respected and honoured all cultures, races and religions.

'It was never my intention to disrespect another culture.

'It is my hope that through my mistake and ignorance, like me, people now know and are aware of the sacredness of the head dress to Native Americans,' she wrote.

'To those who I have offended, I sincerely apologise.'

The designer's Facebook page has exploded with comments opposed to the Indian theme.

'This is appallingly offensive cultural appropriation. I see you're deleting comments about this too.

'Would love to see some accountability for this--you put it on the runway, you have to defend your poor choices,' Morgan Ashworth posted after Cooper's apology.

Designer apologises for using headdressA Maori United Nations advocate and a board member of a native American organisation, Carl Hutchby of Te Atihaunui-a-Paparangi, said ignorance was not an excuse in this day and age.

He said he was offended for his First Nation brothers and sisters that it happened in Aotearoa, and said Maori felt the pain of other indigenous people when their culture was used inappropriately.

Mr Hutchby said he had spoken to a Cherokee elder, Mashu White Feather, who was disgusted with the use of the ceremonial headdress. He said as far as he understood, it was not appropriate for women to wear them.
Trelise Cooper’s apology labelled ‘disingenuous’But Dr Peter Shand is questioning her apology, saying that there's been plenty of fashion events overseas that have recently made headlines for the misuse of 'war bonnets'.

"lf she's going to claim ignorance of what's gone on overseas that means she's not in touch with international fashion, for one of the leading fashion designers in New Zealand, that would seem highly unlikely."

Auckland Mayor Len Brown, who was sitting in front row of the show yesterday, says he believes "her apology is an absolute indication of her integrity.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Natives Protest Nugest in Sturgis, Vogue Editor in a Headdress, and Mayonnaise Manager Dresses as "Indian."

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