On Oct. 14, a runway show in China organized by clothing brand 022397Bluff caught some social media users’ attention for allegedly using blackface on its models.

Blackface accusation: Shanghai-based journalist Siyuan Meng shared a picture of the event on Twitter last week, which showed a line of runway models who donned colorful clothes and had their faces painted black.

  • “While 022397Bluff is known for using the embroidery and cultural elements of the Miao ethnic group as the designer himself is Miao (according to Baidu, a few Miao villages would put on blackface in weddings), showing up in blackface at a major fashion week is quite ignorant,” Meng wrote.

  • Meng also cited an infamous case of blackface on Chinese TV. In 2018, the world’s most-watched TV show, China’s Spring Festival Gala, drew outrage for using blackface in a comedic skit.

  • Co-founded by Chen Ximing in 2019, 022397Bluff launched its first collection at Paris Fashion Week in March 2021, according to Not Just a Label. Chen, who majored in stylisme and modélisme, received his bachelor’s degree from the École de la Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne devient l’Institut Français de la Mode.

Is it really blackface?: In an Instagram post, 022397Bluff shed light on the wedding custom of the Miao people, in which they paint their faces in black. The tradition signifies “blessings and happiness after marrying” for the bride, the post read.

  • “According to the custom, the darker the wiping, the better: the darker the wiping, it means that the bride will have a lot of blessings and happiness after marrying,” 022397Bluff wrote. “The darker the wiping, the embroidered cloth dyed by the bride will be darker, and the clothes made by the bride will be better. The origin of the smearing face comes from a legend in the ancient song of the Miao nationality, and this wedding custom has been passed down to this day.”

  • Miao is the official Chinese term used to describe the four distinct ethnic groups in China, mainly the Hmu people, Qo Xiong people, A-Hmao people and the Hmong people.

Reactions: Some Twitter users defended 022397Bluff painting their models’ faces black.

Featured Image via _022397

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