MADRID – A new collection by luxury fashion label Carolina Herrera inspired by different Latin American holidays has sparked a complaint from the Mexican government, which accuses that brand’s creative director of cultural appropriation.
The accusations refer to the Carolina Herrera Resort 2020 collection, which the label says is inspired by a “sunrise in Tulum, the light of Lima, strolls in Mexico City ... and the colors of Cartagena.”
In a letter sent to Carolina Herrera and its creative director, Wes Gordon, Mexican Culture Secretary Alejandra Frausto demanded “an explanation for the use of designs and embroidery of native peoples.”
In the missive, Frausto upheld “the cultural rights of indigenous peoples” while also asking the company and Gordon to “explain on what basis they decided to use cultural elements whose origin is fully documented.”
“The Carolina Herrera Resort 2020 collection takes on the playful and colorful mood of a Latin holiday ... sunrise in Tulum, the waves of Jose Ignacio, dancing in Buenos Aires and the colors of Cartagena,” that label, a subsidiary of Spain-based Puig Beauty & Fashion Group S.L., says in a press release.
EFE contacted the company after the Mexican government leveled its complaint but has not yet received a response.
The Mexican government’s objections to the new Carolina Herrera designs, which it says appropriate the world vision of Mexican indigenous peoples, come as it is working on a bill to protect their art and creativity from being plagiarized.
One of the designs in question is a long white dress with colorful embroideries of animals and flowers.
Frausto says in the letter that that embroidery design comes from Tenango de Doria in the central state of Hidalgo and expresses that community’s history, adding that “each element has personal, familial and community significance.”
She also mentioned some above-the-knee dresses with colorful embroidered flowers like those made in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of the southern state of Oaxaca.
The Mexican government also is complaining about some Wes Gordon-designed dresses with the typical serape (blanket-like shawl) of Saltillo (capital of the northern state of Coahuila) that indigenous people use to make a variety of warm clothing items.
In the letter, Frausto said a “principle of ethnic consideration” was at stake.
After 37 years in the fashion world and 72 shows, Venezuelan-born designer Carolina Herrera stepped down two years ago as creative director of the label she founded in 1981 and handed over the reins to Gordon.
Mexico’s government also has leveled similar accusations in the past against fashion brands such as Zara, Mango, Isabel Marant, Louis Vuitton and Michael Kors.
Designers often have drawn inspiration from different cultures in forging their creative universe. For example, Moschino, Gaultier and Lacroix created collections based on the aesthetics of bullfighting.
But what once was deemed inspiration may be regarded in today’s world as plagiarism.