On Monday, Jenner arrived at Schiaparelli’s couture runway show in Paris for the debut of the brand’s Spring-Summer 2023 couture collection and wore a black gown from the Italian fashion brand’s latest collection. The look featured the lifelike bust of a lion’s head on her torso.
A gown nearly identical to the one worn by Jenner was then modelled on the runway by Irina Shayk.
The lion wasn’t the only animal featured on the runway in the brand’s latest collection, which CNN reports was inspired by Dante’s Inferno. Naomi Campbell walked the runway wearing a black faux-fur coat with a wolf’s head, and model Shalom Harlow wore a strapless snow leopard tube dress featuring a realistic bust of the animal’s head.
Schiaparelli described the busts as “faux-taxidermy” and told CNN they were made by hand using foam resin and other man-made materials. They are meant to serve as a “reminder there is no such thing as heaven without hell; there is no joy without sorrow; there is no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt,” according to Schiaparelli’s creative director Daniel Roseberry.
The collection has since sparked backlash on social media, where some have accused the brand of encouraging trophy hunting of animals such as those featured in the collection.
Ms Johnson, the wife of former Prime Minister of the UK Boris Johnson, condemned the collection on her private Instagram. Alongside a photo of Shayk wearing the lion gown on her Instagram Story, she wrote: “Grim! Real or fake, this just promotes trophy hunting. Yuck!”
Ms Johnson was not the only one to accuse the brand of promoting trophy hunting through the use of the “faux-taxidermy.” Many others took issue with the use of the animal heads as accessories.
“ââBasically glorifying trophy hunting,” one person tweeted, while another said: “This normalisation of trophy hunting is so wrong. Using the natural beauty of wildlife to ‘shock’ and stir controversy. How sad and empty.”
“As much as I love couture, promoting animal slaughter (fake or not) and calling it high fashion is ultimately a grand faux-pas of the season,” someone else alleged.
The collection, and specifically the dresses worn by Jenner and Shayk, also sparked backlash from some who claimed it was “insensitive.”
“The world today has only 20,000 lions, [which are] not evenly distributed. India has just 600 Asiatic lions in its western region. Governments have worked hard for their preservation. @KylieJenner this isn’t fashion, it’s a grave insensitivity towards a critical animal,” one person tweeted, alongside a photo of Jenner sitting front row at the fashion show,” one person wrote.
Another said: “I know it’s fake but I hate that it glamorises wearing an animal that is considered already vulnerable. I don’t mind lion symbols or logos or images but an actual head model just leaves a bad taste in my mouth.”
The criticism also extended to Jenner’s Instagram, where she posted a photo of herself wearing the dress along with the caption: “BEAUTY AND THE BEAST. Thank you @danielroseberry and @schiaparelli for such a special morning. Wow I loved wearing this faux art creation constructed by hand using manmade materials. Beautiful beautiful.”
“Even though this is not real, this is still problematic and unnecessary. Anything that promotes the commodification of animals and insinuates that their skin is something to be worn and glorified is just plain wrong,” one of Jenner’s followers commented. “Big game hunting is still prevalent and, considering how more species are becoming threatened or extinct every year, just adds to how harmful it is. These fashion houses need to stop trying to be controversial and cloaking it in the guise of ‘creativity.’”
There are just 23,000 lions left in the wild today, which makes them a “critically endangered animal,” according to The Born Free Foundation, an international wildlife charity. The organisation, which is dedicated to keeping wild animals in their natural habitat, states that humans are the “key cause” of the decreasing lion population due to poaching and habitat loss. They claim that the current rate of both means lions could be extinct by 2050.
In February 2022, grey wolves became protected under the Endangered Species Act once again in the US, which grants them the status “endangered.” The animals were previously removed from the list in October 2020.
Additionally, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) notes that snow leopards are considered “vulnerable” and have a total estimated population of just 4,000 to 6,500. The organisation acknowledges the threat the climate crisis has on snow leopards, as “rising global temperatures can severely impact alpine habitat productivity which in turn can impact prey and freshwater availability in the harsh mountainous environment”.
On Schiaparelli’s Instagram, where the brand posted a video of Jenner wearing the controversial gown, the design house emphasised that the lion head was made using “hand sculpted foam, wool and silk faux fur,” and hand-painted to look as “life-like as possible, celebrating the glory of the natural world”.
In the caption, the brand added: “NO ANIMALS WERE HARMED IN MAKING THIS LOOK.”
Schiaparelli also included the same disclaimer on posts of the she-wolf and snow leopard gowns, as well as a behind-the-scenes look at the creation of the busts.
Despite the disclaimer, many have continued to criticise the brand’s fashion statement as being “disturbing” and “disappointing”.
“Schiaparelli do better. This is in incredibly poor taste,” one person wrote.
The Independent has contacted a representative for Jenner and Schiaparelli for comment.