Renowned fashion design icon Marc Jacobs is speaking out against political correctness, calling its rise a dangerous threat to the creativity of designers everywhere.
Jacobs, who’s one of the world’s leading fashion designers, is one of the latest high-profile personalities to speak out against political correctness. His words echo comedy legend Mel Brooks, who called political correctness the death of comedy in September.
“I think it’s very dangerous to say: ‘You can’t use this, you can’t look at that, you can’t borrow from that, you can’t be inspired by that,” said Jacobs before an audience at the Oxford Union.
“You know, ‘stay in your own lane.’ I don’t really understand that mentality and I think it’s a very dangerous way of thinking,” said Jacobs before his audience of around 400 students.
Jacobs was accused of “cultural appropriation” and “racism” after he cast white models in dreadlocks in his New York fashion show last September. He dismissed his critics, stating “I don’t see color or race.” He explained that he drew inspiration from a wide range of influences — not just black culture. He referenced rave culture and Boy George as examples.
This year, he enraged social justice critics again at New York Fashion Week when he unveiled a new line with designed inspired by classical Arabian fashion.
“I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong. I was expressing myself — these were my references and my reasons for being inspired to do it,” said the 54-year old designer. “I wasn’t saying that this was the origin of dreadlocks, and yet it caused this whole thing.”
“What I did learn from that experience is to have some responsibility to be sensitive, especially when people say ‘this feels like appropriation’, then at least listen to what they have to say,” he added. “Because I reacted out of anger, I felt attacked for doing something that I thought was my right to do. I do feel that creative people shouldn’t have any kind of border control on what it’s okay to look at, what it’s okay to be inspired by, so I stand by that.”
Jacobs delivered his speech alongside Edward Enninful, Vogue Magazine’s first black, and first male editor in history. According to the Telegraph, Enninful told students that he doesn’t have an issue with cultural appropriation as long as the original culture is credited.
“If someone appropriates something, as long as they give credit where it’s from and give the history of where it’s from, I’m completely fine with it,” he said. “If you are going to appropriate, just credit the original.”
In recent years, college students and social justice “culture critics” have expressed fury at creators for culturally-inspired designs, even where the original cultures are given credit.