October 28th, 2013
Diversity, Featured
Fashion Designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua and more Wear Blackface to African Themed ‘Disco Africa’ Halloween Party
By Claire

Y’all, it is 2013. 2013!!!!
Why is this stuff still happening?
Hallowood-2013-party-giampaolo-sgura--photo-zhanna-romashka--DSCF6989 (1)
Last night, for a Halloween party with a ‘Disco Africa’ theme, several Italian fashion insiders, including designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua, came in blackface. Here he is, posing below with Stefano Gabbana (of Dolce & Gabbana) and Juan Fran Sierra.
allessandro dell acqua stefano gabbana Hallowood-2013-party-giampaolo-sgura--photo-zhanna-romashka--DSCF6996
The fête was documented by Russian photographer Zhanna Romashka, who put a slew of party pictures on her blog OnlyStylishPeople.it.
See a few more ‘artistic’ interpretations of Africa below:

Carlotta Oddi and Paula Cadematori

Carlotta Oddi and Paula Cadematori

Photographer Zhanna Romashka and Anna Dello Russo

Photographer Zhanna Romashka and Anna Dello Russo

Carlo Mengucci

Carlo Mengucci

Unidentified Party Guests

Unidentified Party Guests

A black man was actually at this party, and got into costume along with everyone else

A black man was actually at this party, and got into costume along with everyone else

Blackface is antiquated, has been deemed controversial across the board, and is racially insensitive. It is steeped in a negative history, pointing back to a time in American history when blacks were considered 3/5th of a human being–unfit to represent themselves, so white actors took the lead (at first), painting their skin brown and propagating some of the most pernicious and dehumanizing stereotypes of black people at the time (minstrel shows characterized blacks as lazy, superstitious, and buffoonish).
zhanna romashka Hallowood 2013 party giampaolo sgura  photo zhanna romashka DSCF7038


Do fashionable Italians live in a bubble? It would seem so. The uproar over Blackface in fashion has been constant and consistent ever since Carine Roitfeld painted Lara Stone brown for Paris Vogue. The enduring message: this is not ok!
Lara Stone Blackface French Vogue
That this whole party was full of people in blackface shows a startling predomination of ignorance, abetted by fashion designers and insiders we admire. We are not moving forward people, we are moving backwards.
anna dello russ blackface party halloween racist fashion italy milan
afroglam racism blackface Hallowood-2013-party-giampaolo-sgura--photo-zhanna-romashka--DSCF7024
racist blackface party in Italy
What do you think of these party pix?

racist blackface party giampaolosgura disco afric 2013 fashion style allessandr dell acqua
See the full selection of pictures on Zhanna Romashka’s blog, OnlyStylishPeople.it. See a few more pix on her Instagram, @ZhannaRomashka, and check the hashtags #hallowood2013 and #discoafrica for the full scope (before they’re deleted. Zhanna suppressed all blackface photos, and @DellAcqua’s Instagram, along with many others, is now private).
racist disco africa party milan mauro festa dean and dan caten dsquared blackface fashion allesandro dell acqua slave

Also, check out our Blackface category (yes we have one) to see recent moments of Blackface in fashion.
*Thanks to Bisous Natasha, @TheShoeGawker, and more who alerted me to this this morning.

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113 Responses to “Fashion Designer Alessandro Dell’Acqua and more Wear Blackface to African Themed ‘Disco Africa’ Halloween Party”

  1. J says:

    Spent time in Europe. Not really surprised.

    There is no “politically correctness” movement in some of these countries.

  2. Thank you for sharing this Claire. Ignorance is no longer an excuse. They know from the time they did the French Vogue editorials, the African Queen editorial and a whole other bunch of editorials that this kind of thing is not ok.

    SO when they are painting themselves, looking at reference minstrel photos, are they not clued up on what they are doing ? Sorry but it’s like me looking at a Holocaust image for a costume and not reading the accompanying text. “Oh, I had no idea those thin people were in a concentration camp”, I just thought they were natually skinny people in stiped pyjamas. Oops !

    No, I don’t think so. And the worst part is most of them don’t care and they have the money and power to not give a damn. SMH


  3. Doc says:

    People need to realize these people know full and well this is offensive, they just don’t care. They gonna do what they want to do because there are no consequences to offending a black person. We don’t mean anything to them and nothing is going to happen to them if they do something to hurt black people. Time and time again in places all over the world, black people face discrimination, prejudice, mockery, and even outright murder and never find justice. We are told “you’re being over sensitive, we were joking, you give offensive words too much power, we were within out rights to shoot you, you don’t belong here shopping we know you’re broke because you’re black”. And nothing happens because in their minds we deserve it because we are not worth the outrage. All these people can do now is give an empty meaningless apology and say “oh we didn’t know it was still offensive”. The apology cannot reverse time and make them not where these idiotic and racist costumes. And that’s what they know, they can be as racist as they want because all they have to do is apologize after the fact and it will be brushed over.

  4. Marley says:

    These are the people Kanye is begging for approval. Smh

  5. Taylor says:

    I understand the history behind all of it. But, looking at it from a different perspective, erase all the negativity behind “black face”, and what does it represent then?

  6. Yakini says:

    This is egregious!!!

    I hate that it’s still so rampant in 2013, and yet it doesn’t surprise me at all. Completely agree with commenters Natasha & Doc above.

    And sadly, this isn’t exclusive to Europeans. Julianna Hough just recently apologized for the black face she wore to a Halloween party this weekend. But it’s like…. why would she think that’s okay to begin with? smdh

  7. Jihan says:

    i’m just waiting for the excuse behind the blackface costume. Hell, I’m waiting for all the excuses behind this foolishness.


  8. Anonymous says:

    Goddd, have mercy. I try. I try. I try. I try. I hate seeing people put their true selves on display but a lot of times the world needs to see it to know where the corrections need to be made. Disco Africa and you come with black painted faces and spears?

    Oh. Gosh. Let me not have been there. Fun fun fun to play African for a night right? There were no real Africans there to set them straight.

    Bubbles are meant to be popped sooner or later. Reality check on aisle 2

  9. Areyouserious says:

    I think this is all in your mind. The people at the party were not offending anyone by making reference to African costumes. The spirit of it all seems to be to take part and celebrate a great country rich of symbolism and iconic costumes like Africa. Plus Dell’acqua was dressed like an Italian commercial figure of the ’80s http://www.dimenticatoio.it/images/9/98/omino-spot-caramelle-tabu.jpg… So what are you talking about? Don’t be stupid criticize real racist attitude which deos happen in Europe and should not anymore. We are all for equality. Especially for race and sexual orientation.

  10. Est87 says:

    This is wrong!

    However I see nothing wrong with what Juliana Hough did. She didn’t come as ‘random black person from America’ – she came as a character from a tv show, who happens to be black. And? If you know the character, you know it’s very fitting for Halloween.

  11. Zeinabou says:

    I wonder if I decided to paint myself white get a red head wig, put some freckles on my face, wearing denim overalls with a raccoon in one hand kissing my
    “brother/cousin” talking about bbq’ing some possum if people would take offense? people think its all fun and games and want to take it lightly until you make fun of them. Like I keep on saying these designers come to Africa looking for “inspiration” put that ish on their runways and then make fun of us. Know your worth that is only when we can truly make a change.

  12. rw says:

    im assuming it was a tribal themed show, and when left to the imagination, this is what came about. I saw picts of people dressed as Jackson 5, Sly Stone, Ethiopian runners, pimps, etc…guess this is what they thought of first. how did Al Jolson become a part of this, and these folks spent top dolla on costumes. Was this a charity event?

  13. Zeinabou says:

    I wonder if I dressed up as a red head freckle faced, denim overall wearing, hillbilly with missing teeth a raccoon in one and kissing my “brother/cousin” talking about barbequing some possum if people would be highly offended… @taylor if you understand the history of it that question would not have been asked.. If I wore a pale jumpsuit and a star of david on it and removed the “negativity” what would it represent? all these pseudo insults carry weight. We can’t always take it lightly when we are being insulted.
    As I said before these designers come to Africa for “inspiration” use it on their runways and then turn around and make fun of us. Know your worth that’s the only way we can make a change.

  14. Shonnette says:

    My question is as a force in the social media world, what are we prepared to do in response to this ignorance? June Ambrose commented on your Instagram post…..also a force in fashion and social media….do you feel the need to react? I looked at all the pics, there was a horrible interpretation of Michael Jordan. One picture had a hashtag that read Madonna and bambino nigga, which I’m praying is black baby in Italian. I cannot support ignorance and will not as an African American with buying power!

  15. Looks like I’ll have to find my clothing wealth amongst black designers. I already wasn’t a fan of Anna Dello Russo, and D&G already were wearing my patience thin. The one black male in attendance doesn’t make it right. And Taylor, there is no taking the negative out of something that was negative to begin with. That’s like saying “oh saying chink/jap/spic is just another way to call an Asian person”. But I’m assuming you’re not black so you wouldn’t understand. If you are black, then you read a little more about the history of “you’re not even good enough to play yourself so we’ll let a formerly oppressive race play you instead “. And Julianne Hough could have done the costume without the makeup

  16. Es Jay says:

    Well, I just came home from church to log in. I’m uncomfortable.

    But I’m happy that once again, Fashion Bomb Daily shows ALL sides of fashion and political (in)correctness. We do not live in a world that operates on our comfort zone, so it’s only expected that I will be displaced here and there. I am PLEASED that you all showcased this buffoonery because they deserve to be placed on blast. I see what those women did with the whole coming as safari animals (the zebra and the tigress or gazelle, idk).. this I get. If it was a “Safari” themed party- dope- but at least it was a safer way to play into an African themed, yet all-white, gathering. But everyone else? Wow! And I don’t even think they are racist so much as they are just ignorant.

  17. Simiyalala says:

    Well, this basically shows their feelings about us and why they don’t hire black models. No one should buy their rubbish.

  18. Alli says:

    Hey you up to with the Julianna Hough comment! Blackface is offensive PERIOD! whether it’s based on a real person or not. Even if they like the person they are imitating, it’s still offensive. This is why these clowns continue to do it. Always someone out there giving them a pass.

  19. Alyssa says:

    Is it ignorance or just plain, “I don’t give a f*ck”.

  20. visible minority says:

    I do agree that blackface is offensive. Saying that, I think that current society (predominantly North Americans since we try to be mostly PC all of the time) have a conflict of interest. We stress the unimportance of our skin colour, and so would it not follow that blackface shouldn’t matter? cause we’re all the same? personally, i’m more offended by the unnamed individuals wearing bananas as skirts, than the blackface itself. and

  21. TiaG says:

    Italians have a reputation for being racist, and they do not hide it like Americans.
    What is Disco Africa? They dress like Al Jolson, he died in 1950, and was he never a part of the disco era? This is just a superiority party, they are collectively stroking their own egos. Considering all of the publicity about designers not using black models this seems like a backlash. A middle finger of sorts.
    And @Marley thank you for bringing up Kanye. He has enough money to start his own label ( and connections if he wants a backer) and he is chasing these people (and I saw his fashion shows on Youtube and he used two maybe three black models???)Kanye cant find black models? The remedy to this is for black folks to start their own sh*t and stop asking people like this to be anything other than what they are. And by any chance are these men gay? If you are a part of a marginalized group you should no better, right? Shame….

  22. Me says:

    @Visible Minority
    The people the people doing this are also the ones trying to convince us that colour doesn’t matter. Justifies their behaviour.

    @Zeinabou… thank you!!

  23. Est87 says:

    Hate that phrase ‘giving them a pass’ – that offends me.

    The people above are insinuating that dressing up simply as a black person is a Halloween costume – that offends me. Laughing and poking fun, using stereotypical portrays of ‘African’ people – in the exact same manner as the minstrel shows.

    Julianna is dressing up as a character from a hit TV show (who happens to be black) doesn’t offend me. Giving the history of black face – insensitive. But not offensive to me, personally.

  24. Pissedoff says:

    Yep. And this type of crap is why I say Jim Crow is back. Funny, these idiots will dress up like this. They will wear offensive stereotypical Arab terrorist costumes, offensive Asian and Latino costumes but none are going as Nazis. I guess offending everybody is okay, but they draw the line at offending Jews?

  25. Est87 says:

    Hate that phrase ‘giving them a pass’ – that offends me.

    The people above are insinuating that dressing up simply as a black person is a Halloween costume – that offends me. Laughing and poking fun, using stereotypical portrays of ‘African’ people – in the exact same manner as the minstrel shows.

    Julianna is dressing up as a character from a hit TV show (who happens to be black) doesn’t offend me. Giving the history of black face – insensitive. But not offensive to me personally.

  26. N says:

    You are ascribing American values and points of views to the rest of the world. Stop it. For as politically correct as you think you are, you aren’t. Europe did not go through the minstrel era and is innocently ignorant of what it means to Americans. It’s simply a question of dressing up and getting fully in costume. Yet you are completely ignorant to this fact, it seems.

  27. jme says:

    @Delia Selana Gardner-Price

    Thank you! This was the comment I was waiting to see. Yes, it is offensive, but what actions are we going to take to show that we will not stand for these types of displays? Stop buying their clothes! That is how you take a true stand.

    Year in, and year out, some celeb does this….All for publicity. I thank you for posting this, Claire, so I know which companies not to give my money to.

  28. Claire says:

    @N we live in a global culture. Americans already said “BLACKFACE IS NOT OK,” when Carine Roitfeld tried this foolishness in 2009. You cannot say you are blissfully ignorant anymore. Everyone should know better!!
    I don’t have the LUXURY of not knowing about other cultures, their mores, and views. I am aware of it all, and am as respectful as I can be. I can only hope other cultures would give me and my culture the same respect.

  29. peplum lover says:

    Ok, think about this

    - Tyra Banks did a photoshoot where she was wearing “whiteface” to look like cara delivgne and Kate moss.
    (there was no uproar) And I read a comment on a blog saying “and what if i did blackface” the commentator was clearly inferring that(it would be racist).

    - What about when the wayans brothers did white chicks?

    - Or what about Juliana hough dressing up as a character for halloween just recently?

    - Your fave Beyonce was in blackface for a photoshoot, where she tried to replicate the nigerian culture…
    I’m nigerian and i didn’t see it offensive….

    I may be the minority but i’m black and if they’re not throwing banana skin at me or yelling racist chants then i don’t think its racist and i’m not offended.

  30. Black Thought says:

    I actually thought you would have said more Claire. I guess you’re still trying to save face and be down with fashion. You did not say anything an intelligent black person did not already know. When are you going to stand up for your readers who pay your bills.? Where is the real reporting? Say something real, don’t just be nice cause you still want to get tickets for shows under your pseudo title with Vogue Black. Are you still in to be liked!? I guess you pleaded the Jay Z, and still want to cash those checks. I guess we will see you at No 21 show.

  31. Raul says:

    I think you are looking at things from an american perspective, at least from where I come (portugal) there is no negative thoughts associated to “blackface”, it was not a widespread thing like in the united states so there isn’t really an opinion on the matter, it’s just not important to us.

  32. Autumn says:

    Hurts my soul to the max. This is utter bullshit.

  33. Love says:

    This answers the question as to why there are not more black models on the runway. Because many of the got dang designers and influential people in fashion are ignorant & racist idiots who still think people of color are less than. According to their actions we are not important enough to respect and show sensitivity towards. I will not support anyone who does not support me. Black people have tons of buying power whether we save up or just got it like that many of us spend. I will bust out my own needle and thread if I have to. I hope we all start taking note on who does what so we spend our hard earn cash on something not made by someone who wouldn’t care if I was hanging from a rope or not.

  34. Love says:

    And he knew what he was doing he dressed up literally as black face as opposed to those who are truly trying to pass as black which is bad enough. He’s straight up walking around with that stupid white around his mouth I just can not with these people!

  35. riley says:

    I am black (African) I have lived in Italy and in North America and not once, not ever did I feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in Italy. I have been followed in shops, had people asking to touch my hair and skin and been called the N word for the first time in my life and felt unsafe in my America. Clean up the mess in your own back yard before trying to clean up the world. It is hard to take this anger seriously when the high profile black celebrities are singing songs about Versace. I’m over Americans policing the world while their country is a damn mess.

  36. Tiffany says:

    I’m so tired as a black woman that this is still happening. After seeing the halloween picture of the guy in black face dressed as Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman, what gives?

    What will it take to stop this? And Riley, nobody here is policing anything. Just because you haven’t experienced any issues in Italy doesn’t mean that it’s happening there. This whole world needs fixing. Not just the U.S.

  37. Claire says:

    @Black thought : this picture’s presence on my blog is my way of speaking out. What more needs to be said?
    I’m rarely invited to No 21 shows and no longer write for Vogue Black. Do. Your. Research.
    Nice try trying to attack me instead of looking at the true offending parties. Stay focused and don’t come for me.

  38. Rebecca says:

    idk Claire… this is starting to seem like a battle that can’t be won. Its really shocking to me that after all the uproar the previous blackface issues caused, blackface is still running rampant. smh like we cant make it anymore clearer that this is offensive but fashion people just does not care.

  39. Ledsi says:

    Thank you Claire and the FBD staff for continuing to bring light to stories such as these. It keeps me informed as a consumer. Our biggest weapon is the power of our dollar. Don’t let the anger you feel when you read these stories be transient. I will not buy Dolce & Gabanna, Isabel Marant or shop at Barney’s. I have my own personal boycotts based on my on values because at the end of the day I value myself and my people more than designer labels.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Wow. my immediate reaction was to be offended but im torn bc I think some valid points are raised here…particularly by some of the commenters from outside of the u.s. many european countries do not have the same racial history (and henceforth baggage) that america does. black face may not have the same significance.

    plus, are we saying a white person can never dress as a black person? do we dress up as white people on halloween and/or for laughs? yes! I’ve also seen people dress up as asian (karate people and geishas) and native americans, ive never heard uproar about that.

    last but not least, regarding one of my biggest pet peeves- AFRICA IS NOT A COUNTRY, people! it is a CONTINENT, with MANY countries, languages, cultures, and religions…damn! lawd have mercy…some people need to read a book!

    at the end of the day, i do think this event was in questionable taste and i cant quite articulate what makes it different from the above scenarios. part of me thinks it’s highly offensive and part of me thinks black (american) people need to stop pointing fingers and instead, look in the mirror at the all of the crazy ish we encourage, reinforce, and bring on ourselves!

  41. Half of The Boss of Me says:

    There Is No Need for people to be Like This! ….This is terrible.

  42. Zandy says:

    This is wrong in every way and the worst part is that these “sophisticates” know exactly what they are doing and think they are being iconoclasts. No, you’re just being racist. Just like John Gallianao. It’s not shocking the bourgeoisie, it’s just disgusting. Read a book, talk to other people, do something other than look down your coke-filled nose at people who are not like you. Basically, get a life.

  43. JayHobeSound says:

    Apparently the guys in blackface were referencing this old Italian tv advert:


    Many costumes look very creative and well done. But the blackface guys? Bollocks.

  44. Anonymous says:

    @Areyouserious- umm just to let you know Africa is a continent.You must have missed that geography class …..

  45. SHARONGEE says:

    This is another designer I will gladly avoid. I will put the word out about the ignorance of this designer and the industry who perpetuates such disrespect upon the black race who are the number one consumers of labels and goods. We come from a people who has recently and still do get stepped upon, degraded and hosed down. My relatives fault and died not for this to continue. Stop giving these fucktards a pass and honor your black descendants!!! Boycott this designer and all who don;t give a dayum!

  46. lola says:

    DEAD !

  47. lola says:

    DEAD @ the masai warrior locks. I can’t, not right now. This is not just an issue of “black face” but a dehumanizing attack on global black identity and black culture.

    I concur with @ Shonette. What are we going to do? I am, to be quite honest, tired of these stories on racism in the fashion industry. I have no patience for it, I just don’t. My Economics teacher always said if you want someone’s attention, hit them where it hurts: the wallet.

    Instead of more of these posts, can we get a list of designers guilty of similar offenses? Can we get a list of designers, like that Isabel Marant wench, who refuse to use black models (and I know of you n*groes will still go ahead and purchase items from her H&M collection, smh)? Can we start a mothereffin movement that galvanizes all minorities to stop purchasing the products of these racially insensitive sons of bishes? That’s what we need.

    When their bank accounts start to shrink, they will know we mean business. Until then, #bloop. I just cannot waste any of my hard-earned energy on these fools. I’ll see you in the stock markets boo.

  48. lola says:

    @ peplum lover

    Girl, sit down. There is no such thing as “white face.” You know why? Because white face simply means painting one’s face white. It does not carry with it a symbolic and tortured history of racism, abuse, oppression and prejudice. Black face does sweetheart and that’s the difference. I see that you are Nigerian. This might be the problem — most of my African brothers and sisters are massively ignorant to the black face issue leading them to spew some nonsensical b*llshit like the stuff you just said. You sound educated. Do yourself a favor and purchase some books on the history of black face in America. You don’t even have to go to a bookstore or library. Amazon is at your fingertips, literally.

    As for your Beyonce black face comment, chile, sit all the way down until your bare buttocks touches the floor.I am African too sis and in certain tribes in my country, people (both dark and light-skinned) paint their faces black during certain rituals. Beyonce is BLACK WOMAN. Thus, she has every mothereffin right to do the same thing when honoring an African culture. Y’all are killing me today.

    And to these thirsty bishes coming for Claire, your thirst is showing. Grab a glass of water and cool off. Mad she has the job you want huh? LOL Go rest, you have a suffocating office cubicle to sit at tomorrow or better yet, flipping frozen meat at that drive thru around the corner, from 9 to 5


    Keep up the great work Fashion Bomb team

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