Harlem rapper Azealia Banks says she was so offended by the Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2013 collection featuring racially insensitive black face mammy images, shess boycotting the brand.
The designs in question, which were presented last month during Milan Fashion Week (and available in this HuffPo slideshow), included Blackamoor imagery (basically mammys) printed on clothing and used on accessories, such as black face mammy earrings.
The “212” rapper tweeted this past weekend that she’s boycotting that brand. Among Banks’ tweets, “I really hate when people do corny, racist things then try to justify it as ‘art’” and “Definitely boycotting Dolce & Gabbana.”
Although Banks is relatively new, she already has some influence not only in hip-hop circles but in the fashion industry. “She is currently the face of T by Alexander Wang, has her own M.A.C lipstick and knows how to turn heads on the red carpet,” reports The Huffington Post.
Hip hop has proven to have power when boycotting, especially when against brands like D&G that young black people aspire to own. Remember Jay-Z’s boycott of Cristal champagne in 2006 after Frederic Rouzaud, managing director of Louis Roederer, the company that produces it, told a magazine that the company really was not happy with the acceptance of the drink by the hip-hop community and that the “bling lifestyle” could be detrimental to the brand. Jay-Z viewed this as a racist comment.
“It has come to my attention that the managing director of Cristal, Frederic Rouzaud views the ‘hip-hop’ culture as ‘unwelcome attention,’” Jay-Z said to USA Today. “I view his comments as racist and will no longer support any of his products through any of my various brands including the 40/40 Club nor in my personal life.”
After all, it was rappers who had helped make the champagne a household name through mentions in lyrics, appearances of it in videos. In fact, wrote the UK Guardian, “Cristal’s current must-have status owes something to its adoption by young black musicians and their fans.” Because of the boycott, Cristal lost popularity and other champagnes, such as Armand de Brignac, became more popular.
Banks isn’t the only one who upset by the latest D&G collection. But whether her boycott will actually elicit change or some sort of an apology remains to be seen. The bigger the star the more effective the boycott. It’s unclear whether Banks’ star shines bright enough. But the negative media attention could be enough to make D&G reconsider any other questionable designs they might have in mind.