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Prada Launches Diversity Council Led by Ava DuVernay & Theaster Gates Post Blackface Outrage

Prada announced the launch of a diversity council to elevate voices of colour within the company and fashion industry at large after facing blackface backlash over their Pradamalia collection.

Naqshib Nisar |

Updated:February 17, 2019, 10:54 AM IST
Prada Launches Diversity Council Led by Ava DuVernay & Theaster Gates Post Blackface Outrage
Prada Launches Diversity Advisory Council Led by Ava DuVernay & Theaster Gates Post Blackface Outrage

Prada, the Italian luxury fashion brand, appointed Oscar-nominated director Ava DuVernay and artist Theaster Gates to co-chair the Prada diversity council after blackface backlash over its Pradamalia line.

The fashion house announced the launch of this council to address diversity issues after the release of the controversial blackface Pradamalia collection.

In a statement, Prada said that the diversity council is set up to "elevate voices of colour within the company and fashion industry at large."

Miuccia Prada, CEO and creative director issued a statement, "Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company."

She further added, "In addition to amplifying voices of colour within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live."

In December, Prada courted controversy after it was accused of using racist 'blackface' imagery for some trinkets as part of its new 'Pradamalia' range. Following sever backlash, the company has issued an apology and have recalled all the questionable products from its worldwide stores.

It all started last week after a lawyer Chinyere Ezie, who works with the US Center for Constitutional Rights, posted a photo of some of these alleged 'blackface' trinkets including monkey-toy charms and keychains, in a storefront window in Soho.

In the post, Ezie wrote that she was 'shaking with anger' at the 'Sambo like imagery' of the Prada store.

"...after a very emotional visit to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture including an exhibit on blackface, I walked past Prada’s Soho storefront only to be confronted with the very same racist and denigrating #blackface imagery," Ezie wrote.

She added that when she entered the store to confront the storekeepers, some of the staff allegedly said, "A black employee had previously complained about blackface at Prada, but he didn’t work there anymore."

As the post gained support from all around the world, Prada decided to pull their products from store shelves and issued a statement, "we abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery."

Not only has Prada come under radar for their blackface collection, singer Katy Perry and Gucci also faced backlash for their shoe designs and black sweater collection, too. While Katy Perry apologised, Gucci removed black sweaters off their shelves and announced a diversity initiative which includes fulls scholarship programs within their creative departments.

Recently, Gucci was forced to remove a black jumper from its shelves after consumers pointed out its resemblance to blackface. After issuing an apology, Gucci’s CEO and Creative Director announced similar diversity initiatives to Prada, including a full scholarship program to increase diversity within their creative departments.

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