January 18, 2022

French brand Sézane apologizes after controversial shooting in Mexico

The Parisian company has been accused of “manipulating, using and exhibiting” an indigenous woman, as part of a photo shoot.

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French fashion company Sézane has apologized after a controversial photoshoot, featuring an elderly woman, a member of an indigenous community in Mexico. “I want to express my deep apologies for my mistakes”, wrote the founder of the brand, Morgane Sézalory, in a message in English shared Tuesday, January 11 on the Instagram account of the NGO Lienzos Extraordinarios.

This same organization had published, two days earlier, the video tour on an undetermined date of a shoot showing this woman wearing a Sézane green waistcoat, photographed by several French speaking people, some of whom do not wear a mask. The member of the Zapotec community is then invited by a member of the team to sketch a few dance steps.

After the broadcast of these images, filmed in the state of Oaxaca, in the southwest of the country, the Mexican Ministry of Culture accused the Parisian company of “manipulate, use and display elderly people of the [autochtones] as part of its advertising “. The National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) also condemned this “exploitation of the image of indigenous people”.

Contacted by HuffPost, Sézane said that “cThe photos were intended only for the designer’s backstage journal ” and “had no commercial vocation”. “These are the photos of a woman spontaneously met three days previously (…), who had agreed to come and share a lunch with the Sézane team and to participate in the backstage newspaper photo shoot”, continues the brand.

The Mexican government, which emerged from the nationalist left, has its sights set on international fashion brands that plagiarize indigenous craftsmanship patterns in their clothing lines. Mexico denounces a company “cultural appropriation”. Another French designer, Isabel Marant, had already apologized in November 2020 after being accused of plagiarizing the designs of purepecha craftsmen for one of her coats.