Katy Perry called out for designing 'blackface' shoes

Katy Perry shared the offending ‘blackface’ shoe design back in August [Photo: Getty/Instagram]
Katy Perry shared the offending ‘blackface’ shoe design back in August [Photo: Getty/Instagram]

Katy Perry is caught up in a blackface row over an offensive pair of shoes from her footwear range.

Two pairs from her eponymous line, Katy Perry Collections, are said to depict blackface features.

The “Rue Face Slip On Loafers” and “Ora Face Block Heel Sandal” both feature faces on a black leather.

Many have called out the 34-year-old singer-turned-designer on Twitter.

The styles have since been pulled from US retail stores Dillards and Walmart.

The backlash isn’t without warning, as Perry was already criticised for the shoes when she first shared a design on Instagram in August 2018.

At the time, the shoes were called “disrespectful” and “racist”, with many mentioning the “blackface” connotations.

View this post on Instagram

Face it – it’s always a good time to put your best foot forward 👠👀👃🏻👄👠 @katyperrycollections

A post shared by KATY PERRY (@katyperry) on Aug 6, 2018 at 7:12pm PDT

Perry has since apologised for the offending shoes, issuing a joint statement together with Global Brands Group to PEOPLE.

It reads: “The Rue and The Ora were part of a collection that was released last summer in nine different colorways [sic] (black, blue, gold, graphite, lead, nude, pink, red, silver) and envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism,” the statement begins.

“I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface. Our intention was never to inflict any pain. We have immediately removed them from katyperrycollections.com.”

What is blackface?

Historically, blackface is a form of theatrical make-up used by black people playing white people.

The blackface practice became particularly popular in the mid to late 19th century, as a key element of minstrel shows – when white actors would depict often-racist tropes of African-Americans including plantation slaves.

The practice has been discontinued in recent decades, as awareness has grown about its racist connotations.

Nevertheless, Perry’s line isn’t the first fashion label to face controversy for blackface this year.

Recently, luxury fashion house Gucci was called out for a balaclava sweater which, according to commentators, resembles blackface.

Gucci has since released an apology in an official statement circulated on Twitter.

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