September 25th, 2012
Fashion Discussion, Fashion News
Fashion Discussion: Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2013 African Earrings
By Claire

While we waxed poetic about Dolce & Gabbana’s quaint yet colorful Spring 2013 offerings and undeniably gorgeous shoes, somehow the following earrings escaped our gaze. Thankfully Refinery 29 took a moment to zoom in on these baubles, depicting a decapitated ‘Mammy’ type character, sporting a cornucopia of fruits and flowers atop her head.

Yes, the designers harkened back to an earlier time in their collection, representing Italian countryside imagery by way of decorated burlap saps and straw corsets. But does the reference to the rustic life have to include depictions of minorities in what appears to be a slave state? Aren’t these the types of relics you’d find in a Civil War knick knack store or perhaps a Jim Crow era museum?

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Were we too mesmerized by the bright hues and two toned sunglasses to recognize the undoubtedly politically incorrect ear candy?
And what do you think? Do you find these offensive?
Or is it all in good, fashionable fun?

Read more at Refinery 29 .
* Speaking to a Brazilian friend, she divulged that the images also represented spiritual entities from African cults. She said she wasn’t offended, but rather wanted to know the reason for using them. What do you think?

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58 Responses to “Fashion Discussion: Dolce & Gabbana’s Spring 2013 African Earrings”

  1. I like them though it can get very controversial. I likey!

  2. Bronze says:

    Any seasoned thrift store shopper has seen these earrings since….forever. Hell I have a pair. I think the lady is beautiful. It’s the same lady you see in the Islands, the same lady you see in Mexico. She is not a coon. I say a good black publicist with an axe to grind should make sure every black actress has a pair.

  3. CC says:

    I don’t really find it offensive…I just don’t get the point behind it. Perhaps this was an attempt to spark some unnecessary controversy. Lots of designers do this type of thing. The earrings don’t really serve any type of purpose in the collection but thats just my humble opinion.

  4. CaribbeanQueen says:

    I’m just wondering why the designer felt inspired to do so. The contrast between the color of her lips and her skin tone are resemblant of the minstrel shows. (See linked photo) http://a3.ec-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/42/d1751ecaab3774027fb4c7d6508d7b06/l.jpg

    The everyday dark skinned black woman does not have blaring pink lips. I know it’s not supposed to have that minstrel show effect but its just too similar.. Maybe I’m just nit-picking.. Idk

  5. I guess no one looked at the fabric correctly in the collection either as similar images were on many of the garments. I don’t find it offensive considering women from regions such as Africa, south america, Caribbean and India have always carried loads on their head long before slavery and colonization.

  6. longliveamour says:

    I’ve lived in Italy for a bit and saw a lot of these references on sugar packets. Disturbed, I asked an Italian friend and he explained that Italy has had some problems with cultural sensitivity and the “zucchero” packets are branded because most of the sugar is imported from the Caribbean. It makes sense since their colonial history is different from ours and realistically there isn’t a huge, black population living there to hold people accountable.

    That being said, I feel like Dolce & Gabbana should know better being global brands and be more sensitive to plastering faces on their prints and deeming them “exotic”.

  7. Bre Bre says:

    Im all for the earrings as long as they hanging from ears with a brown complexion…. Once a blue eyed devil puts them on I turn on attack mode! #BlackPanther #PowerToThePeople

  8. LaTasha says:

    I said this on a previous post and I’ll say it again. I’m not sure why Europeans continue to use other cultural customs(in this case offensive african images) to make money. I would love to see European designers do something European. Do Europeans not have culture? The post is about the mammie type earrings so I will stay on topic. I don’t like the earrings, but I’m also not offended. I’m at a place in my life I don’t let the ignorance and insecurity of people bother me. African American women look nothing like that and everyone knows it. We have Kim Kardashian and women of other cultures getting plastic surgery to get physical features we are so criticized about. I feel sorry for people who feel using other cultural images can help elevate them. If this makes you feel superior then I will continue to keep you in prayer. Be blessed.

  9. Bajan Candy says:

    I loooove these earrings! Actually, I love any Black Americana reference. However I will say that I always give ‘other people’ the *side eye* whenever I see them with any Black Americana paraphernalia. Color me sensitive I suppose; but I need these in my life!

  10. Kay'Gee says:

    I’m african, i know my history, but I don’t think this should be interpreted as her representing a slave. she’s just an african woman carrying a basket of fruits on her head which is completely normal in my land. I think it gets offensive when D&G’s justification behind it is that of voyeurism or colonial undertones. I would like to read/here the motivation behind it.

    @LaTasha… no they don’t have culture lol their culture is pop culture and that’s about it. (excluding non-English speaking European countries like Spain).

  11. longliveamour says:

    Claire I think you need to post the prints on the clothes too! Maybe if people see how it’s not just earrings but also dresses and blouses that are using the image in full force they might be more offended?

  12. Jihan says:

    The had white lady versions of the earrings in question as well: http://media.vogue.com/files/2012/09/23/dolce-gabbana-rtw-ss2013-details-083_123915469938.jpg

    I don’t know, I actually kinda liked the earrings (and want t buy them?), but perhaps I don’t understand the racist context? From what I gathered, is that the image of these women (white and black) are based on planters popular in the region that inspired the collection. It has nothing to do with America. The “mammy” thing might be a case of Americans attaching racist imagery unique to our country to another culture?

  13. Allie says:

    Its so “fashionable” *sarcasm*……by the postive or ” i dont care reviews” I can tell which website I’m…smh

  14. Yayda says:

    I cant say I’m offended. If she would have been a few shades lighter people would have thought it was Carmen Miranda. She doesn’t have the typical look of a “Mammy”. So lets focus on bigger things

  15. I don’t find the earrings offensive. If I saw them in a store next to a pair of earring shaped like Africa or a t-shirt that said ‘peace’ I would think nothing of it. I think it only gets offensive because white women are modeling them.

  16. D says:

    I don’t think it’s up to one person to tell another to be sensitive or not. Some people find them offensive and I respect that. I actually don’t but also just simply wouldn’t wear them as they are not my style and further more I just don’t get it (yes Jihan I remembered the “inspiration” re the planters and thought dang they needed to reach for “planters” to find inspiration- that fountain of ideas must really be running dry!). I also remembered seeing the images on the clothes and they- like the earrings where a bit of a head scratcher for me…also shouldn’t they be described as “bodyless” and not “headless”???

  17. queen bee says:

    not feeling

  18. Uh I am confused, what was politically incorrect?? A black women with fruit on her head, would it had been more appropriate if it was a latin women? Please stop! I hate ignorance with a passion. The glasses are fly, I have a gingham pair of Dolce Gabbana very similar.

  19. Anayo says:

    Why does everything always have to be so overly scrutinized all the time? UGH I’m so over it. I’m Nigerian and those just look like some earrings of your typical African woman from the motherland, and she looks fly at that. Looking at the overall collection, the earrings went along with the tribal, colorful, embellished theme. Not everything is meant to portray coonery, “Mammy” images, or slave depictions. People forget that Africa as a country and its people are an inspiration for a lot of designers, especially Italian ones like Dolce and Gabbana. Not everything is being pulled from the times of American slavery. Not everything is in relation to America!

  20. Truth Teller says:

    3 LETTERS

  21. Truth Teller says:

    W T F?

  22. AH says:

    I was offended at first when I saw these, but I actually like them, I thought of it like this, if the woman was light skinned or white we would all probably think of the earrings being a Carmen Miranda type character and we would think they were cute and think probably nothing of it.

  23. sweetcoco says:

    In Europe things like this don’t have the same racist association as they may do in the US. I’m not offended by them and I see them just as earrings and not a statement about slavery. I agree with Anayo that not everything needs to be analysed for a deeper meaning.

  24. kay says:

    Reminds me of vintage Selini Selro blackamoor jewelry! They too cute I love them!

  25. lungi says:

    As an African living in Africa, I am not in the least offended. I don’t understand what is offensive about them, African women do carry fruit on thier heads. and so would I if I had to.
    But maybe I am speaking as someone who is in an African country with a black majority.

  26. Achieng says:

    These earrings are not offensive. The description of them as ‘a decapitated **Mammy” type character’ is what got me on the edge. Was it made with an aim to sensationalize this and create something that is not? Then again, I am not American so what does not offend me will be offensive to others and vice versa e.g as the description the writer gave.

  27. Claire says:

    A few notes for those who think we’re sensationalist and always crying racism on this site:
    1. The Refinery 29 writer who first noticed these and called them ‘racist’ ‘colonialist’ and asked to ‘get Cornel West on the phone’ is Lexi Nisita, the young lady pictured here:
    http://www.refinery29.com/what-we-re-wearing-lexi-s-last-day
    If she can question these earrings, then why can’t we?
    2. This is a fashion discussion, and of course welcome all opinions. I’m not saying you should be offended, I’m simply introducing the question.
    3. Just because you come from a country that doesn’t still deal with the real and everlasting effects of American slavery doesn’t negate our pain or feelings. Perhaps try to empathize with those who might see this woman as something more than just a ‘benign African lady’.
    X

  28. rosa says:

    I actually like and would wear them.

  29. NickieLuv621 says:

    Thank you Claire!

  30. I’m torn. It’s a “damned you do, damned you don’t” situation. It’s nice to see other racial groups and ethnicities incorporate the styles of women of color. I don’t see a problem with this for an assortment of reasons. To start, her eyes aren’t bulging out of her head with Ruby Woo colored lips. She’s brown. It’s not like she’s depicted eating watermelon and chicken. Further, if they were “light-skinned” women (how to even depict that is besides the point), someone would launch into a monologue about choosing fair skin over brown skin. AND, D&G were inspired by Sicilian culture where, unless you have been to Sicily or are well-versed in Italian culture, how would you know people of color inhabited there? “The designers looked to the Sicilian town Taormina for inspiration, using the vibe and some of the local charm to inform their designs. The province’s famous turbaned planters were printed on everything from dresses to blouses, and dangled from models’ ears in the form of ornate baubles. ” Bravo for them!!! Socio-geographic statement without being preachy, disrespectful, or overbearing. Subtle statements for a bigger change.

  31. Soul Touch says:

    Not offended. It’s not a mammy, coon, or black face character. This idea of black woman is scene all over the islands, south america, and such.

    What I don’t get is why they have to continue to steal our culture for notice. Guess the fascination continues.

  32. @jessuisjess on instagram says:

    REMEMBER when Italian Vogue got in hot water for their labeling of the “slave earring” http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2028817/Vogue-featuring-racist-slave-earrings.html … well in my honest opinion… it looks like Dolce&Gabbana is trying to ride that wave as well. Controversy sells

  33. Deb says:

    I wonder if the Refinery 29 writer didn’t notice that the same image or something darn similar was also on dresses and tops in the runway show. So I’m guessing she’s calling the entire collection offensive. With what’s going on the world today it’s kinda hard for me to get worked up about some earrings. Designers are slowly losing their creative license in an overly sensitive PC world….sigh

  34. jeda says:

    Whether or not someone finds this offensive depends on their history. To some people, mostly black Americans, the mammy figure represents slavery. As for me, who grew up in Guadeloupe, this particularly reminds me of the beautiful island women selling goods by the sea.

    This is where the problem lies. Is it or to use any kind of black relic to accessorize??? Is it objectifying us, and making us a commodity again? Does it represent some kind of ownership?

    Many people will look at this and not see anything wrong with it, But we must realize that racism is no longer an overt concept, but that it manifests itself in the most subtle ways.

    Just something to think about.

    Blessings

  35. reesha says:

    I thought that the earrings were beautiful, why do we get so offended by “dark” tones. It does not matter in every culture including Puerto Ricans, African Americans, Jamaicans and so on we tend to cast a shadow over those who are of dark tones. Stop feeding into this nonsense I would rock these just as I rock my Cleopatra door knockers. BLACK is beautiful point blank period.

  36. mary says:

    shes not decapitated its a bust CLAIRE. of an island woman . lets not OVERPLAY the race card here

  37. Pinchez says:

    I am an Afro- Caribbean woman and I am not at all offended by these earrings. My grandmother and many other grandmothers still dress that way. After my grandmother’s death we all fought to get her headties. Why does a black woman in a headtie seem offensive, when it is reality, whether it was a reality of slavery or not.

    If the image of the woman were lighter would it still be considered offensive? Latinas and persons of African descent do have similarities in their cultures. Is Carmen Miranda who wears a headtie seen as offensive?

  38. RUFOrReal!!!! says:

    What’s up with the race card! We’ll I happened to be looking at a magazine right know that shows these earrings with a dark skin women and a white one. No one is speaking on the earrings in white!!!! And if you think I’m lying, google this years Dolce & Gabanna show they used both races of earrings in there show!!! But it’s subtle racism! Ignorance is a mother!

  39. Whatevz says:

    I don’t know. This screams blackamoor to me. And I’ve never met a woman of this complexion with such bright pink lips. Sorry.

  40. Not offended. I don’t like them and wouldn’t wear them but I’m not culturally or racially offended.

  41. Heide says:

    Well it’s cool that all of you are not offended. I however am. I think it was in bad taste. Just like the Spanish magazine w/the First Lady on the cover baring her breast. That was art also. Yeah you know racism is never depicted in artistry and never in the fashion world where so many people of color are welcome. And maybe if this collection was shown in Nigeria, Central America or where ever else racism does not exist in the world there would be no controversy. But it was shown in the good ole US of A where we have a very long and active relationship with racism and racist images. I don’t support this fashion. I don’t agree with it. and I am absolutely offended.

  42. Heide says:

    Sorry my computer spazzed before I could complete my comment.
    By ‘shown’ I’m referring to the images being shown here in the US I’m aware Dolce shows in Milan. Just to clarify.

  43. Abbie says:

    No. No. No. The models have black caricatures in their ears. I’m sure they decided against the finishing touch of red lipstick last minute.

  44. anonymous says:

    my first reaction was that she doesn’t look like the typical “mammy” becasue she is sporting the basket of fruit on her head. i dont find this to be offensive all though i could see how at first glance some might take offense. seeing as though these earrings are offered in 2 skin tones, as per Jihan’s link, I dont think that this was intended to mock a specific culture or background but instead to shed light on a specific history that the collection is inspired by.

  45. Jenny says:

    How are these earrings offensive? They are beautiful and celebrate what our women looked like back in the day. For you to state that the woman is decapitated is absurd. Was the creator of these earrings supposed to include the entire body? I think sometimes we a black people are too sensitive.

  46. Anonymous says:

    I don’t find them offensive. This post is the first time I’m seeing them and the first thing I thought was that she looks like an African or Caribbean woman. Unfortunately, I think we tend to perpetuate racism by being shamed by any depiction of us that doesn’t coincide with a modernized version of an African American. Not to get too deep, but for years our people were conditioned to hate anything that related to our native culture, the results of such brainwashing can still be seen today. Why are we offended by an image of a dark skinned woman wearing vibrant colors carrying fruit on top of her head? She doesn’t look like a slave here. Maybe if she had a grey tattered scarf with whip lashes across her body and bloodied cotton in her basket I’d see your point. The diaspora extends to more than just America. People should be able to celebrate the beauty in our culture without having to tip toe around the sensitivities of those who choose not to celebrate it for themselves.

  47. I don’t find them offensive. This post is the first time I’m seeing them and the first thing I thought was that she looks like an African or Caribbean woman. Unfortunately, I think we tend to perpetuate racism by being shamed by any depiction of us that doesn’t coincide with a modernized version of an African American. Not to get too deep, but for years our people were conditioned to hate anything that related to our native culture, the results of such brainwashing can still be seen today. Why are we offended by an image of a dark skinned woman wearing vibrant colors carrying fruit on top of her head? She doesn’t look like a slave here. Maybe if she had a grey tattered scarf with whip lashes across her body and bloodied cotton in her basket I’d see your point. The diaspora extends to more than just America. People should be able to celebrate the beauty in our culture without having to tip toe around the sensitivities of those who choose not to celebrate it for themselves.

  48. AzizMom says:

    This is an interesting topic. I have looked at the earrings and read over the comments. I must agree with some questions posed by Jeda: “Is it or to use any kind of black relic to accessorize??? Is it objectifying us, and making us a commodity again? Does it represent some kind of ownership?” The image and likeness of the Black/African woman has been misused and abused for ages. This use of the earrings is no different, however there were Black and White versions. I don’t think it was a “mammy” character but an island or native woman. Verdict: Not offended, but not everyday earrings either.

  49. tammy says:

    Being a young African-American woman myself, I personally don’t’ find them offensive. I mean yea it’s a beautiful black woman with fruit on top of her head, but would it be as big of a deal it the woman was white, Mexican or even Asia. Sometimes I feel as though our community will look for any time of excuse to say we are offended or bring times back to slave days. Now with that being said…I would def wear the earrings!!!!

  50. Kacey says:

    it’s a head, how can this be offensive?!

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