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'Stop Racism' Headdress Stirs Appropriation Debate at Fashion Week

At Fashion Week in Milan, a Belgian designer dressed his model in a feather headdress bearing the words 'Stop Racism.'
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At Men's Fashion Week in Milan, Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck sent his models down the runway wearing a statement that is seen as a welcome rebuke to the industry's habit of appropriating Native culture. 

The accessory was a feathered headdress -- but a headdress vastly different from the faux-Native ones that Victoria's Secret Angels and Karl Lagerfeld's Chanel models sported. This is a veritable billboard made of feathers, topped by an arrangement that some observers feel is meant to be a raised middle finger. The message, printed clear as day, is less open to interpretation. "STOP RACISM," it says.

"We applaud Van Beirendonck for taking a stand — in this industry, that takes guts," writes Alyssa Vingan at Fashionista, "but the question remains: Will this finally stop happening?"

On Twitter, Bethany Yellowtail, one of the leading Native designers working today, offered her opinion in a response to Fashionista: "Finally someone gets it right."

A Belgian designer makes a statement -- image from