Editor's Note: The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.
We knew it was only a matter of time before there was some sort of cultural appropriation controversy at New York Fashion Week. Creatures of the Wind premiered its Fall 2016 ready-to-wear collection on Thursday, and it featured everything from graphic-shaped peacoats, to bright and bold prints and gorgeous red leather numbers. We loved everything from the clothes, the shoes, and especially the hanging earrings. But what we weren't so crazy about was the beauty look the show referenced as the "chola" look.
The statement look was bold (to say the least). Some models were even seen wearing pigtail braids that were apparently inspired by images of Snoop Dogg.
Creatures of the Wind's makeup artist, Mark Carrasquillo claims
he "was thinking a lot about Spanish girls and I wanted to update a chola
kind of lip." Yup, he actually said "chola kind of lip."
Carrasquillo lined the models' lips with a deep burgundy lip liner (NARS Velvet Lip Liner in Bell Mare to be exact) and then followed with a coat of a similarly toned lipstick before layering on two brighter red glosses for a look he calls "bitchy" and "tough." If you think that's bad, wait until you read what it says in the show's makeup look's press release:
"I was inspired by a young Hispanic girl in New York. She's really confident and likes herself — she doesn't entertain all the makeup tricks "contour, foundation powder" she goes straight for a strong lip. This is a sophisticated update on the heavily-lined lip from the 90's. I played with the color and application on the lips, kept the rest of the face clean and bare, and brushed gloss through her brows to keep it young. It's beauty with attitude."
We don't even know where to begin in terms of everything that's wrong with the inspiration behind this look. We've seen everyone from Rihanna, Selena Gomez, and even other high-fashion designers try to replicate the Mexican-American beauty look, but it seems as though not everyone really understands the history behind the term "Chola." And after reading that press release we're certain the brand didn't do their homework because not only does Chola have nothing to do with New York culture, but "Spanish girls" as Carrasquillo likes to say, does not mean Latina. Here are a few things totally wrong with this beauty look!
- Cholas aren't from New York: The origins of the chola aesthetic does not derive from New York. It actually traces back to WWII in Los Angeles, when Mexican-American teenage women, also known as "Pachucas," were starting a rebel subculture that rejected mainstream beauty ideals that were associated with white, upper-class beauty.
- It wasn't a clean and
bare look. The girls back then were known for rocking teased hair, tinted
eyebrows, heavy makeup, dark lip liners, knee-length skirts, and bouffant
beehives. Not exactly the "clean and bare faces" Carrasquillo was talking
- They were not Spanish:
Again, the women that were part of this subculture were Mexican-American, not
Spanish. The term "Spanish" accurately refers to people from the
country of Spain, not Latinas. Totally not the same thing.
- It's not just about makeup: Celebs and designers have been inspired to replicate the iconic beauty look of the '90s, but what a lot of people don't get is that "Chola" goes way beyond just makeup and big hair. "The chola identity was conceived by a culture that dealt with gang warfare, violence, and poverty on top of conservative gender roles," artist and historian Barbara Calderon-Douglas told VICE. "The clothes these women wore were more than a fashion statement — they were signifiers of their struggle and hard-won identity."
- Most of the models weren't even Latina: What's even more ironic about the fact that Carrasquillo chose a "Chola" beauty theme is the fact that a large majority of the models that walked the show weren't even Latina. The clothes also didn't relate whatsoever to this culture, which makes us think this wasn't a well-researched move on the brand's part.
- The pig-tails braids were inspired by Snoop Dogg: Um, yes Snoop Dogg is from the west coast, but that doesn't equate to Chola culture. But then again, Carrasquillo also said he was inspired by "Spanish girls" in NYC.
- The inspiration is off: Carrasquillo said that the inspiration behind the lip look was "tough, hard girls that mean business." Sure, cholas looked "tough and hard," but they also lived in the midst of racism, discrimination, poverty, and gang violence. "Tough" wasn't something they weren't just showing off, it was something they had to be to survive.
- This was incredibly stereotypical and irresponsible: We're sure they meant no harm by it, but replicating a look from a subculture you know nothing about just because you think it looks pretty and cool enough to appear on a runway show is NOT okay. Maybe next time they'll consider doing their homework before making such a bold move.