How Did These Awful Cornrow Wigs Make It Onto A Fashion Runway?

Commes des Garçons
Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

Stories of cultural hair appropriation, disrespect, and downright ignorance are tiring, stale and God-awful — just like the cornrow wigs Commes Des Garçons sent down the runway last Friday.

This is bad. Really bad.

The Japanese fashion brand actually approved this series of oversized, ill-fitted, janky AF lace front cornrow looks for its Fall 2020 menswear presentation in Paris.


Commes des Garçons
Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

First thought? We are being trolled. We have to be. There is no way I can conceive that a licensed hairstylist with any training, talent or sense would allow their name to be attached to such as tragedy.

Alas, hairstylist Julien d’Ys is standing by this mess, saying he was inspired by an “Egyptian prince” look. He even hashtagged Pharoah Tutankhamon on a post defending his work. “Never was it my intention to hurt or offend anyone, ever. If I did I deeply apologize,” he wrote.

If? IF?! IF?!?!?

Commes des Garçons
Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

First of all, ALL of Black Twitter came for him and this abomination — so we know it offended. Stop putting the weight on the marginalized.

Beyond that, why are we still being subjected to this type of foolishness in 2020? Where are the people of color or culture being represented in the room or consulted when making moves like this? How could the hairstylist or the brand not think it would be cultural appropriation? The direct inspiration was from another culture — a Black and Brown culture! Before you take it on and share just how inspired you are by it, learn about it. Consult an expert.

And, while I just want to be mad at the cultural disrespect, can we revisit just how bad these wig “installs” were? The lace is not even cut. WTF? Even the most basic of YouTube tutorials show that you cut the lace.

Commes des Garçons
Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images

The wigs are sitting on the models’ foreheads with loose braids that look like they were haphazardly cut with kiddie scissors. (And how does that blonde bib of hair tie in?)

This is beyond offensive — it’s hurtful. This is what this hairstylist thinks we look like. This is what brands think we want. Do better. We make — and break — trends.

Black buying power in the U.S. is the second-top demographic in the country — an all-time high of $1.3 trillion — and reports prove we drive beauty and fashion markets. Brands cannot continue to disrespect us and expect to get our dollars. (And, we have to stop giving them.) 

I don’t need any more damn “sorries” or “not my intentions.” I need change. There needs to be more diversity behind the camera, on the administrative, marketing and creative teams.

About The Author

Stephenetta (isis) Harmon

isis is a music, hair and communications junkie. she is a Black beauty editor; founder of Sadiaa, the premiere beauty directory for women of color, and editor for HypeHair.com.