Do These Ads Bother You? Michael Kors and Donna Karan Spring 2012

Donna Karan and Michael Kors looked to the Caribbean and Africa to inspire their Spring 2012 collections, and we’re now getting first glances at their proposed advertising campaigns.

In both instances it’s hard to overlook the placement of contemplative/sad looking black people in the background, who are part of the tableau but still just an accessory to the overall luxuriousness of the setting.

Donna Karan definitely caught heat for her ad, and one commenter on the Huffington Post fumed, “using the downtrodden as props for high-fashion shoots smacks of completely insensitive imperialistic attitudes.” For the moment Michael Kors is still in the clear, though his ad seems to follow a similar theme.

It’s hard to censor someone’s ‘creativity’ in fashion, even if their ideas aren’t actually that creative. The idea of the Africans as ‘props’ to high fashion photo shoots (in Africa) has been done and redone over the past several decades. I would hope designers would try to evolve and maybe even tap black models to show off their goods. Couldn’t you see Liya Kebede working that Michael Kors ad?

But do these ads bother you? Or are they simple artistic expressions?


Claire Sulmers is the publisher and founder of Fashion Bomb Daily, the #43 most influential style magazine in the world.

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