Designer Marc Jacobs has warned that political correctness is becoming a “very dangerous” threat to creativity and innovation.
Jacobs spoke this message before 400 students at the Oxford Union where he pushed back on those who want to restrict freedom of expression.
“I think it’s very dangerous to say: “You can’t use this, you can’t look at that, you can’t borrow from that, you can’t be inspired by that”.
‘You know, “stay in your own lane”. I don’t really understand that mentality and I think it’s a very dangerous way of thinking.”
Critics of Jacobs accuse him of ‘cultural appropriation.’ In this instance for not using black models since he was using a hairstyle typically linked with black culture.
Jacobs said: “I didn’t feel like I was doing anything wrong. I was expressing myself – these were my references and my reasons for being inspired to do it.
‘I wasn’t saying that this was the origin of dreadlocks, and yet it caused this whole thing.’
‘What I did learn from that experience is to have some responsibility to be sensitive, especially when people say “this feels like appropriation”, then at least listen to what they have to say.
‘Because I reacted out of anger, I felt attacked for doing something that I thought was my right to do. I do feel that creative people shouldn’t have any kind of border control on what it’s okay to look at, what it’s okay to be inspired by, so I stand by that.”
Jacobs response to the criticism sparked outrage on social media. He told critics they were speaking ‘nonsense’ and asked why they “don’t criticise women of color for straightening their hair?”
That question caused one person to respond with the reason.
“People of color who straighten their hair are ASSIMILATING to the white dominant culture because we’re never allowed to wear our natural hair in schools and jobs.”
Another person of color gave a reason why she felt the need to straighten her hair.
“Most black women’s natural hair isn’t good enough for the corporate or business world so we must stripped and cut down our natural hair for chemically straightened hair…”
Jacobs argued his own creativity took inspiration from a wide range of sources including rave culture and musicians such as Boy George.