FASHION'S HYPOCRISY: From Chanel to Hugo Boss industry bluster over Kanye's WLM top hides its own Nazi shame
PARIS, FRANCE: Despite harsh criticism from Black celebrities, including a walkout from Jaden Smith, Kanye West is firmly behind his controversial 'White Lives Matter' swetashirt worn during Paris Fashion Week in France. The rapper is under extreme scrutiny for his white supremacist slogan. However, this is not the first time a luxury fashion brand has backed the Nazis. A number of iconic fashion brands that are considered a symbol of class and luxury have in fact, supported the Nazis in the past, despite their 'woke' attitude now.
For some context, in an Instagram story on Tuesday, October 4, the 45-year-old musician actually increased the intensity of his condemnation of the Black Lives Matter movement. “Everyone knows that Black Lives Matter was a scam,” he declared, seemingly referencing the group’s multiple multimillion-dollar scandals. “Now its over You’re welcome.” Ye was addressing the uproar that erupted after he appeared in a 'White Lives Matter' T-shirt at a secret Yeezy fashion presentation showcasing his Season 9 apparel line. The phrase, which was developed by white supremacists in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, was worn by a number of models, including Lauryn Hill's daughter Selah Marley, 23, who walked the runway. Since then, the Anti-Defamation League has branded it a "hate slogan." The offensive fashion statement, it goes without saying, provoked a whirlwind of criticism from celebrities of color, including Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University, and Jaden Smith, the son of Will and Jada Pinkett Smith. “I Had To Dip Lol,” tweeted Jaden after walking out of Kanye's fashion show in protest. He continued his criticism in a series of follow-up tweets, “True Leaders Lead. I Don’t Care Who’s It Is If I Don’t Feel The Message I’m Out. Black Lives Matter. We Demand A More Progressive Future. Kanye West decision to wear a ‘White Lives Matter’ shirt is disgusting, dangerous and irresponsible,” Marc Lamont Hill fumed on Twitter. “Some of y’all will rush to defend him. You should ask yourselves why.”
This is definitely not the first time a brand has emphasized the subject of white supremacy. Some of the world’s most well-known and established fashion establishments, including Balenciaga and Chanel have been part of the Nazi revolution that loomed over the world. With each brand playing a role in their own way, here is how they supported the White Lives Matter notion.
Coco Chanel's efforts as a spy for the Third Reich were revealed in the 2011 book 'Sleeping with the Enemy: Coco Chanel's Secret War'. In the book, Gabrielle Chanel aka Coco was known to have sided with the Germans when the Nazi army occupied Paris. She was also described as homophobic and antisemitic, disorienting people of color.
Many believe that Balenciaga founder Cristobal Balenciaga's success in Nazi-occupied Paris was related to his close ties with General Franco, a supporter of Hitler. According to Tansy E Hoskins' book 'Stitched Up', Balenciaga created a number of dresses for Franco's wife before the war began and, decades later, even stepped out of retirement to create a wedding gown for the fascist leader's granddaughter.
The Hitler Youth's attire was designed by Hugo Boss in 1931—the year before Hitler assumed power—joined the Nazi party. Additionally, the business exploited Nazi prisoners as forced labor in its manufacturing. The firm officially apologized for its actions during the Second World War in 2011.
The billion dollar leather goods company had close ties to the Vichy government in Nazi-occupied France, according to the book, 'Louis Vuitton: A French Saga'. Only Louis Vuitton was permitted to have a store on the first floor of the Hotel du Parc, which served as the headquarters for Marshal Philippe Pétain's puppet government of France. The luxury firm, according to The Guardian, manufactured "more than 2,500 busts, honoring Pétain, a fact not noted in any of its corporate records."
Christian Dior never expressed Nazi sympathies, but when working with Lucien LeLong during the occupation, he clothed a clientele that included the spouses and mistresses of senior Nazi officers. His niece Françoise was outspoken about her support for the Nazis, although his sister Catherine (Miss Dior) was a member of the Resistance.