Last week Milk Makeup announced they were teaming up with an unlikely beauty collaborator – Wu-Tang Clan. The New York-based hip-hop group, members of which have included legendary rappers like RZA, Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Method Man and Ghostface Killah, worked with the cult beauty brand to create a limited edition range of eight lipsticks, as well as a 24 karat gold make-up mirror and a celebratory pin set.
The development of the collection was spearheaded by RZA and his wife Talani Diggs, and draws inspiration from Chinese culture. Each lipstick is named after the I Ching Trigrams while the packaging features a golden dragon wrapped around the inner tube and a new exclusive symbol that combines Milk’s logo with the Chinese symbol for beauty, alongside the Wu-Tang ‘W’.
While some fans were beside themselves over the news, @sonjdradeluxe, for example, commented “SHUT THE MF UP I AM GOINNG TO CRY ARE U KIDDING WU TANG FOREVER OMG OMG OMGOMG I CANT I CANT,” other people were less impressed.
Industry commentators, Estée Laundry, called cultural appropriation on the collection, writing in a post on Instagram: “...using the sacred Chinese divination text I Ching, and religious Taoist/Daoist symbols like the Ba Gua to sell your Lip Colour collection? Come on guys, you can do better than that.”
Instagram user @eklavitch agreed with Estee Laundry, writing “You can’t just use the ba gua anywhere you want! It’s supposed to be hung outside your front door so the evil spirits cannot enter your home. It’s bad luck if you bring it inside your home.”
Others were not so sure, however. @nancyti commented “As an Asian, I don’t see this as cultural appropriation. I think it is an interpretation and a kudos to our culture, and artfully done.” While @fairyglowmuva wrote: “the Wu has used this imagery for over 20 years and have been used as positive examples of cultural appreciation rather than appropriation so IDK about this one. The issue here should be… “WHY IS THE WU-TANG CLAN DOING MAKEUP COLLABS?””
That seemed to be the question on many people’s minds. @ripeep42069 wrote “Why is WuTang Clan doing a makeup collab is the real question.”
@gibbins_21 commented “What I’m [sic] the hell has the wu tang clan got to do with make up? This is the weirdest shit ever.”
And @speccyfoureyes just said, simply, “Weirdest collaboration ever.”