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Comme des Garçons Homme aw20 menswear paris Rei Kawakubo 2
Comme des Garçons Homme Plus AW20Photography Arnaud Lafeuillade

Comme des Garçons ‘deeply and sincerely’ sorry for runway braids

Hair stylist Julien d’Ys has also responded after being called out for cultural appropriation at the label’s latest show

Comme des Garçons has found itself at the centre of controversy after white models in its latest menswear show at Paris Fashion Week wore braided wigs.

People swiftly levelled accusations of cultural appropriation after the looks – which bore a close resemblance to hairstyles typically worn by black people – hit the runway. Rather than every model wearing the wigs, a number of the black models who walked in the show sported their own hair.

This morning, the brand issued an apology to Dazed, saying: 

“The inspiration for the headpieces for Comme des Garçons menswear FW’20 show was the look of an Egyptian prince. It was never ever our intention to disrespect or hurt anyone – we deeply and sincerely apologise for any offense it has caused.”

On the day of the show, Julien d’Ys, the hair stylist who has collaborated with designer Rei Kawakubo for many years, explained his influences on Instagram – citing Tutankhamun and Ancient Egypt. His posts drew positive comments from fashion names including Marc Jacobs (commenters were quick to point out that he apparently had not learned from his own appropriation scandal, which ignited after models wore dreadlocks at his SS17 show).

While d’Ys initially chose to dismiss the criticism as “stupide” in a comment, in response to the mounting backlash, he last night posted an image of the boys featured in the show along with an apology. “My inspiration for the Comme des Garçons show was Egyptian prince a look I found truly beautiful and inspirational. A look that was an hommage (sic). Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did, I deeply apologise.”

The last few years have seen many fashion behemoths accused of cultural appropriation and even racism after a series of high profile scandals. As a result, many in the industry are taking steps to make their brands more inclusive and representative, with the likes of Gucci and Prada hiring diversity panels in the hopes of avoiding past mistakes.