Kanye West Gives His Designer Friend An “N Word” Pass
Just when you thought Kanye West couldn’t get anymore self-indulgent, here comes news about a certain pass he has given one of his famous (White) fashion friends.
According to the Style.com, the “Black Skinhead” rapper has given a hood pass to Parisian designer Jean Touitou, founder and owner of luxe jean maker A.P.C., who used West’s song “Niggas in Paris” as inspiration for his Fall 2015 mens wears collection. Touitou introduced the line, which features Timberland boots and sweatpants (I guess that is the N-word part.), earlier this week during a runway show that also included featured him giving a very awkward explanation for his colorful approach to the line.
“Touitou ushered in a quartet of models wearing three different cuts of a camel overcoat and one check, all matched with gray sweatpants and A.P.C.-designed Timberlands. Then he held up a sign that said, “Last Ni##@$ IN PARIS,” and gave us this exposition: ‘”I call this one look Last N****s in Paris. Why? Because it’s the sweet spot when the hood—the ‘hood—meets Bertolucci’s movie “Last Tango in Paris.” So that’s ‘N****s in Paris’ and Last N****s in Paris. [Nervous laughter from audience.] Oh, I am glad some people laughed with me. Yes, I mean, it’s nice to play with the strong signifiers. The Timberland here is a very strong ghetto signifier. In the ghetto, it is all the Timberlands, all the big chain. Not at the same time—never; it’s bad taste. So we designed Timberlands with Timberland…”
There is so much nonsensical bullshit in that second to last sentence alone, I don’t even know where I should begin, other than to point out that I highly doubt Touitou knows anything about the “ghetto” let alone what is considered proper “’hood attire.” And the mere fact that he dared to open his mouth to teach other clueless White folks about “ghetto” attire, let’s you know the kind of entitlement we are dealing with here. (Here’s a hint: it’s the White kind.). I just pray to the Black Jesus (the one on the Evans Family’s wall); not the one from the Cartoon Network) that those weren’t Black models walking the runway with Touitou as he held up his N-word in Paris sign. But something tells me that they were, because some of us are stupid like that…
If the name sounds familiar to anyone, (Not me, my knowledge of designer fashion labels doesn’t extend beyond T.J Maxx.), Touitou has a reputation around the industry (so says the news blogs) for being an arrogant prick. As the blog The Business of Fashion writes, “Jean Touitou has often been portrayed as a difficult and grumpy man, who actively courts controversy and can be harsh and contemptuous.” In fact, some may call him the Kanye West of fashion, but like, he’s an actual fashion designer.
This might be an understatement. According to Hint Magazine, he once called the entire Chinese manufacturing industry, “Mr. Chong” and “fascists.” He also once accused designer label Hermes of only selling “ugly colors.” And according to Oyster Magazine, he has also taken shots at fashion powerhouse Yves Saint Laurent by basically calling their aesthetic, under new leader Hedi Slimane, tired and “bullshit.” Ironically, West also once called Laurent “bullshit” too.
In fact, outside of their shared hatred for Saint Laurent and love for N-words cruising the streets of Paris in leather sweatpants, the two loudmouths are actually quite friendly with one another. If you recall, Touitou and West collaborated on two limited edition capsule collections, which included an exclusive $120 plain white T-shirt. And according to Style, West actually co-signed Touitou’s new Fall line, including the use of his song, prior to the collection hitting the runway.
More specifically, Touitou told Style, in an email after the awkward runway show:
“I am friends with Kanye [West, who recorded “Ni**as in Paris” with Jay Z], and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and that this thing is only a homage to our friendship. As a matter of fact, when I came up with this idea, I wrote to him, with the picture of the look and the name I was giving to it, and he wrote back immediately saying something like, ‘I love this vibe.”
So “vibe” is what we’re calling cultural appropriation now?
Listen, I’m so over policing White people about their usage of the N-word. For the record, I don’t like it – in any context – when they use it. But at the same time, they made up the word. And it is not like some of them don’t use it with or without our permission. Plus Hip Hop has made it so cool for White people to call themselves “niggas” that at this point, arguing over who can say it is a exercise in futility.
With that said, I am bothered by how self-serving this all is. For one, Touitou is not even calling himself a “nigga;” he’s just pointing out how inspired he is by our presence there. And more importantly, while it is his song, West is in no position to be granting any White boy a pass, let alone permission to interpret and label supposedly “ghetto” culture. Especially when none of the proceeds from the sale of that line will benefit or even advance the very people he is stealing from. In fact, the only person getting anything out of this is Touitou, who not only gets to sell some ugly boots, jeans and pea coats, but gets to seem hip and edgy at the same time. Heck I don’t even think West is making any money off of this. He is just the N-word inspiration. For that reason alone, I got to call this a fashion miss – as in, miss me with this one.
But what do folks think: Should Touitou get a hood pass for his inspirational clothing line or should that pass be voided and Touitou (and West too) be escorted out of Blackistan by security? Be sure to leave your comments below.