Tone-Deaf at Paris Fashion Week


It can be difficult to determine the decision-making process of those who enjoy a certain level of fame. Is it that they do not realize the implications of their public actions, or are they fully aware and feel above caring? The constant tone-deafness of celebrities causes us to ask these questions over and over again, as it seems like many are routinely ‘missing the point’. Influence is a powerful thing, and one who bestows as much influence upon the public as Kylie Jenner (and enjoys the benefits thereof) best educate themselves on the implications of their actions before taking them. 

At the recent Paris Fashion Week, Schiaparelli held a show where the models came out in gowns with hand-crafted taxidermy busts of incredibly life-like wild animals plastered on top. Also gifted a dress that showed off a complete lion bust to wear to the show was Kylie Jenner, who boasts a platform of over 379 million Instagram followers. Naturally, the show sparked a lot of buzz in the media, especially over the messages that such dresses portraying such lifelike depictions, as it did of a lion, leopard, and wolf would spread to the world. 

The designer of the collection, Daniel Roseberry, made the dresses to celebrate “the beauty of nature and guarding the woman who wears it,”, prefacing on Instagram that no animals were harmed in the making of the dresses as it was all hand-sculpted from a variety of materials. But to the naked eye, the busts appeared to be real animals. His further inspiration was supposedly derived from Dante’s Inferno, each animal bust representing one of the three sinful symbols of the leopard, lion, and she-wolf, representing lust, pride, and avarice respectively. 

While no animals were hurt directly by the creation of these dresses, the same cannot be said so confidently as a result of the act of showcasing them to a worldwide audience in such a glorious light. Such presentation of endangered species promotes poaching in a whole new spotlight by promoting them as luxury fashion at such a high-media event as Paris Fashion Week. This is further exacerbated by the promotion of the collection by Kylie Jenner, arguably the most influential of all celebrities in terms of people reached, who augmented the media coverage and posted herself in the dress on her social media. While she was not the one to design the dress, she made the active decision to wear and flaunt the replicated bust of a lion, an animal whose species could potentially be extinct in Africa by 2050 as a result of poaching and habitat loss. Animals are not luxury products to be worn as accessories, but rather dignified beings whose existence does not belong as a fashion accessory. 

In this sense, Roseberry materialized the sinful symbols of the leopard, lion, and she-wolf, namely through the ways in which the depicted species may be adversely affected. The collection was nothing but lustful, prideful, and avaricious, but that does not justify the method to the means. There are other ways than glorifying an industry that is responsible for the endangerment of the world’s most awe-inspiring animals in such a critical epoch to represent philosophy. I think that Schiaparelli missed the mark on this one, and Kylie Jenner should adopt the habit of inner and outer reflection before marketing a product to her robust audience. 

It’s disappointing to witness the roaring tone-deafness of people whom we continue to give a platform. In a perfect world, our idols would be people who act in the interest of the public good, but the reality is far from that. Maybe that is solely the effect of fame on the individual, or maybe it’s that some people’s influence is shadowing the integrity of others. Whatever the root, I hope that people with vast influence as does Kylie can come back to earth and understand that their actions have consequences beyond just themselves. 

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