Marc Jacobs Gets Blasted for Cultural Appropriation After Using Etsy Dreadlocks on Kendall J., Gigi H. and More Models

Kendall Jenner
Gigi Hadid and Kendall Jenner pose backstage at the Marc Jacobs Spring 2017 fashion show. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Folks are pulling their hair out over Marc Jacobs’ updos at his Spring 2017 New York Fashion Week show on Thursday, September 15. The celeb-loved designer had top models including Kendall Jenner, Gigi Hadid, Jourdan Dunn and Adriana Lima walk down the runway in pastel dreadlocks.

Three months ago, Jacobs was struck by the multicolored locks of trans director Lana Wachowski, who stars in his spring/summer 2016 ad campaign. According to The Cut, he sent a picture of his muse to noted hairstylist and Redken Global creative director Guido Palau, who searched high and low for someone to create something similar. He stumbled upon @DreadsbyJena, an Etsy shop that pushes custom wool dreadlocks, owned by Jen from Palatka, Florida. 

Gigi Hadid
Gigi Hadid ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty

“I learned on the Internet,” she told The Cut of her business, which she began last year. She “saw the colors and thought they were pretty.” 

Palau, Jen and Jacobs worked together to dye 300 shades that aligned with his collection, inspired by the roaring ’80s and ravers from the era. “He was like, ‘I want to see this shade and this shade and this shade!’ His coloration and detailing was incredible,” Palau added. “He would say, ‘Could you do something in a more khaki shade?’ Every coloration was so important.’”

Kendall Jenner
Kendall Jenner ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty

Once they found the perfect palette, Jen and her daughter arrived in New York City one week before the show to hand-dye over 12,500 yards of yarn, which ended up turning into 55 dreads that were assembled into high ponytails on the models. “There were roughly six or so different color groupings, like a pale-white blonde, pastel pink, and blue cluster; a My Little Pony–like color bouquet with lavender, coral, and royal blue; and a darker grouping with mustard, army green, and sapphire,” The Cut revealed. 

Kendall Jenner
Gigi and Kendall Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

While Palau and Jacobs devotees praised the team for their initiative, citizens of the Internet accused the designer of cultural appropriation. “Why didn't you hire models with real dreads?! That are apart of their culture. Is it that hard Marc Jacobs?! This is hideous and disappointing,” @stunningselenamg commented on a September 15 Instagram from the show. “There are much better points of inspiration for dreads and locs. Like ones that naturally and beautifully grow out of a black woman's head,” @shondrikajc added.

After the show, Palau addressed the potential backlash. “I don’t really think about that. I take inspiration from every culture. Style comes from clashing things. It’s always been there — if you’re creative, if you make food, music, and fashion, whatever, you’re inspired by everything,” he told The Cut’s beauty editor-at-large Linda Wells. “It’s not homogeneous. Different cultures mix all the time. You see it on the street. People don’t dress head-to-toe in just one way.”

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