The Olympics, Gucci, and Globalization

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Im actually that meme where you don’t know anything about sports, and then the Olympics rolls around and I’m calculating the takedown peacentage for John Shuster (the Skip for team USA) as we go into end 9 of the gold medal curling match.

DID YOU SEE IT? Spoiler alert: We won.

I cried. Almost as much as I cried when Sean White (problematic though he may be) won gold, Evgenia got silver, and shortly after Nathan Chens short program in the team competition starting us off on the road to bronze — I still love him and nothing will ever change that

Its been a ROLLERCOASTER of emotions, clearly

I don’t have a whole lot going on, clearly

I can't help but think about what the Olympics means in terms of "national pride" when the greatest farce of all is the naive thinking that these athletes are driven by some deep rooted love for country rather than chasing retribution for the lifelong personal sacrifice necessary for Olympic consideration.

Its my opinion (like duuh thats what blogs are, I hope you're not here for facts of any kind, whatchu thought?) that a 15yr old can't necessarily grasp the geopolitical ramifications of a Russian 1 - 2 finish in women's ice skating. Zagitova skates for her love of skating (and fear that if she didn’t win her Mother would be shipped off Red Sparrow style to a labor camp.

Russia is...intense.) 

The idea of “nations” is cute and all as a way to highlight the kaleidoscope of the human experience, but I think we can all agree that the capacity of your personhood isn't determined by the lottery of your geographical birthplace. We’re all the same.

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ONE. MORE. TIME. FOR. THE. CHEAP. SEATS. WE'RE ALL THE SAME.

Except for Beyonce. She’s objectively better. 

No-one, however, was more seemingly unconcerned with boundaries— geographic or otherwise — than Alessandro Michelle with this Gucci AW 18 collection that just showed at Milan FW.  Im trying to find just one cultural reference that wasn't touched on during this collection. I half expected the models to dab at the end of the runway. 

I can’t help but question my desire to have everyone march under a single unified “Earth” flag at the Olympics and save the congratulations for the individual atheletes, all while fielding concerns about whether or not this Gucci collection is offensive.

DID YOU SEE IT? Spoiler alert: its offensive. 

Ok Ok offensive is perhaps a strong word. Eyebrow raising? perhaps?

In Guccis #pluriverse, we control our own identities.” says @diet_prada (the angels) “However certain signifiers of identity are better left untouched” in response to the Sikh turbans that were shown on the runway on very not Sikh models — also sidebar, me quoting instagram as a reputable news source, is actually the most millennial 2018 thing that I’ve EVER done. 
 
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I personally didn’t take issue with this

AND I’LL TELL YOU WHY PLEASE UNROLL YOUR EYES AND HOLD ON SENDING ME HATE COMMENTS (actually don’t, I love getting mail! theiussuesblog@gmail.com). While Im not Sikh, so my opinion on the matter is, ya know, not that important, I’m going to give it anyway because, ya know, Im a narcissist.

In the way that cultures are often stolen from and presented as original concepts as a friend reminded me of cough cough Marc Jacobs with those cough cough hideous yarn locs. Oh I’m sorry, my allergies were getting in the way of me saying

WHEN MARC JACOBS SENT SOME WHITE GIRLS DOWN THE RUNWAY IS SOME HIDEOUS FAUX LOCS AND TRIED TO PRETEND LIKE HE DIDN’T KNOW WHERE THEY CAME FROM. 

In the case of Gucci, I don’t think Alessandro is being duplicitous in acknowledging where his references come from. It’s not a Gucci turban, it’s a turban, by Gucci. If that makes sense. 

I think that there should be space for designers to explore the dissonance between the reality of an item, and the artistic theory of what that piece would look like if we all walked under the flag of Earth. Its in this distance where the value lives. 

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"The responsibility does not lie with the artist to answer the questions of what culture is or is not, but rather to ask them."

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The rejection of Sikh identity wasn’t in the show, it was in the audience and the responsibility does not lie with the artist to answer the questions of what culture is or is not, but rather to ask them. The moment a white model walked down the runway in turban, it pointed a mirror at an industry that continues to deny space to diversity of all kinds. Maybe now that Gucci is ‘doing turbans’, it might be ok for the people who follow Sikhism to do it too.

Now in 2 months if H&M starts selling turbans in 6 colors for $12.95 a piece thats a whole different story of cultural derision that, uuugghhh, now that I’ve said it aloud seems actually possible. #Stopwhitepeopletwentyeighteen

Check out the full Gucci collection here and let me know what you think in the comments. 

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Jon Bell 

 

Runway Photos Via: Indigital.TV