Fashion Week furore: Top comments

Last updated 14:00 27/08/2014
Native American headdresses at Trelise Cooper NZFW show
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CONTROVERSIAL: The use of native American headdresses in Trelise Cooper's NZFW show has offended a lot of people.

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A war of words has broken out over fashion designer Dame Trelise Cooper's use of native American headdresses in her catwalk show for New Zealand Fashion Week. 

After a barrage of abuse on social media, Dame Cooper apologised for any offence caused but that hasn't stopped the debate raging on among your comments.

10. CantHaveMyName wants to know where the line should be drawn: 

"Hate to sound childish... but if we are going down this track I would like tartan to stop being used and all non-celtic people to stop getting celtic tattoos. After all these are sacred to my people and represent our heritage."

9. It's people's interpretation of racism that's got James74 hot under the collar: 

"Wearing a Native American headdress is not racist. However, assuming that Native American people, simply by being Native American, are so weak and feeble that they will emotionally fall to pieces because some model in New Zealand is wearing a faux headdress, now that is racist."

8. Shinygirl accepts Cooper's apology but is surprised more people aren't against the use of headdresses in the show.

"I can't believe how many people are defending this, Native American tribes have been working really hard to increase education about this type of thing, even the Center for American Progress has weighed in on it, massive music festivals have banned it because it's so offensive. It's not appropriate, and it's pretty widely known in this day and age. It's really good that Trelise realised her mistake and had a look into the reasons it's not OK and then apologised. Good for her."

7. With plenty of back and forth about the rights and wrongs of it all, Acoustics is concerned people are getting wound up for the sake of it: 

"Seriously if there is an issue leave it to the people that it truly effects. Everyone else is just self righteous band wagoning. If the American Indian Nationals come out against it then fine, but dont assume to speak for them!  I hope none of these guys have ever sung YMCA!"

6. Meanwhile, TeamAndy seems more bothered about whose footsteps Dame Cooper's following in: 

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"Should know better - this was news in June ago when Pharrell was on a magazine cover wearing a Native American Headress, and then a Kardashian (who had trouble keeping up with fashion news). c'mon Dame Cooper, you followed a Kardashian!!"

5. HappyCampers has a different approach altogether:

"You wear feathers the way you want, I'll wear feathers the way I want. The birds whose feathers they are might have an opinion on this. Were they consulted?"

4. For others, like topher08, fashion is the key to this debate:

"I think this has been blown a wee tad out of proportion.  I am Scottish and I can't say I was offended by Alexander Mcqueen's "Highland Rape" (if your not familiar with it the name speaks for itself). He even used my clans tartan. A bit controversial yeah, but not offensive. It's just a fashion show."

3. It may not be the first time fashion has referenced other cultures, but that's not a good enough reason to repeat the offence for Adrian:

"Cultural appropriation aside, before you decide that wearing a Native American war bonnet without having earned one isn't such a big deal, have a think about how Western society treats people who invent degrees and PHDs on their resumes. You didn't earn it, so sit down, shut up and stop being such ignorant racists."

2. Giving a wider insight into why the use of native American headdresses is so controversial, Glen Brown has this:

"I can imagine a lot of people will say 'what's wrong with it?', but the other side of the story is worth thinking about. I have a Native American family from one of the Plains tribes, and have spent time on reservations and taken part in ceremonies and it's part of our daily lives. It will most definitely be deeply offensive to some; it's offensive to me. Sure, a lot of people out these will say 'too bad', but spare a thought for these tribes that are struggling just to be treated as equals in their own country. WhenIi first went over, I couldn't believe the open racism, after a particular incident dealing with a health official I said 'how do you cope with being treated like that? Can you complain to someone?' - the person looked at me a long time and said 'we're used to it'. The poverty, disease, abuse and degradation shocked me. So, yeah fashion is fun, it's art and all that, but for a people mired in poverty, deprivation and the covert apartheid system that exists in the US, the appropriation of a sacred war bonnet is not 'sharing' or 'showing people your culture', it's yet another abuse of a sacred icon and another way of being exploited. It is, after all, about the 'brand' Trelise, and making a rich person richer. So sure, it's just a bit of fun for a lot of people, but for others out there on the 'rez' (reservation), and elsewhere, it's yet another disempowering act by the' white man', or woman as the case may be. Not expecting many people to agree with me here and I'm not trying to dictate what Trelise should or shouldn't be doing , but just asking people to at least consider the wider aspects and implications and maybe just pause for thought about the situation many Native American tribes are in."

1. And finally, MikeN raises an uncomfortable question for anyone in Dame Cooper's situation to answer: 

"Either Cooper is incredibly stupid not to realize the international fallout (esp after criticism for US designers who use the moko) or incredibly smart to realize this will give her brand world-wide publicity. Which is it Trelise?"


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