Response: : the case of “Ankara print ” dresses from Stella McCartney

Spring collection from Stella McCartnet

Cultural appropriation is old as the colonialism concept, however today, we see this subject under a bad eye. With the powerful tool of social network and the free access of education via internet, people tend to be more aware of the cultural minorities in country colonize by much wealthy country. Yet, in the art realm, is it okay to be inspired by to another cultural to created something artistically new? there are two side opposition for this conflict. One side said that it is unacceptable that someone from colonize country interpret the culture of another country without knowing the depth of this culture meaning. And the other side said that it is a form of freedom of expression. Let be clear here, cultural appropriation is not cultural exchange, because cultural exchange is where there is a mutual exchange between two cultures that no one does not have a superiority to the other .

Here a good example of a bad representation of cultural appropriation. The daughter of the famous singer Paul McCartney, Stella McCartney used African patterns for her dresses design fashion in her spring collection. Those African pattern are called ” Ankara print ” which it is a technique print made of wax . Stella have been criticized to appropriated the African pattern for her own design and charging a astronomic price for a dress that African girl wear for daily life purpose.

However is the sad news, ” Ankara print ” is not originated from Africa. No, the real inspiration of this technique coming from is Indonesia which it called ” Batik “. ” Batik ” is a technique of wax-resisting dyeing applied to whole cloth . After, it was imitated by the Dutch. They learn the wax prints from the Indonesian craftsmen. Even then, this technique have been applied through many culture civilisation for example: India, china, Persian, Egypt, Japan and of course Africa . So, in the end, the so called ” ankara print ” is itself a appropriation of several cultures.

Maybe the problem of Stella design ” ankara print ” is that it had not enough dept about the long historical acknowledge of this type of technique that it is portrayed in her work. And because of this insufficient historical knowledge of this technique made this work tend to be associated to a stereotype of African culture.

#71 “African Fabrics”: The History of Dutch Wax Prints–Guest Blog by Eccentric Yoruba

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