As Couture Week unfolds in Paris, one designer is finding herself at the center of controversy after using a racial slur.
Russian couture designer Ulyana Sergeenko came under fire for writing a note to blogger and street style star Miroslava Duma that read, “To my n*ggas in Paris.” Duma, for some reason thinking the Kanye West line was acceptable for two white women to use, shared a photo of the note on Instagram Stories—which quickly elicited a wave of backlash from the fashion industry and beyond.
The designer was immediately called out by Instagram users and several industry insiders, including Naomi Campbell who tagged Sergeenko and wrote “this better not be real,” on Instagram Stories.
This morning, Sergeenko took to Instagram to issue an apology, which in turn, many found to be just as problematic and tone-deaf as the hand-written note. She wrote, “Kanye West is one of my favorite musicians, and NP is one of my favorite songs, and yes, we call each other the N word sometimes when we want to believe that we are just as cool as these guys who sing it.”
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After the perplexing explanation, the designer continued in her apology writing, “I am deeply sorry to everyone whom I might have offended. Mira is a dear friend and even the fact that she so naively posted my private card on her social means that we meant nothing wrong and didn’t realised [sic] the consequences.”
But followers and fashion insiders weren’t buying Sergeenko’s excuse.
Quite possibly the worst apology for casual racism I have ever read, and that’s really saying something. https://t.co/NRtVIJTNOI
— Matthew Schneier (@MatthewSchneier) January 23, 2018
This DISGUSTS me. To see Mira post something on IG so casually using this racial slur, and then have Ulyana defend the usage with such a bs excuse makes my blood boil. So tired of “fashion girls” thinking that listening to one rap song gives them the right. pic.twitter.com/P5XHVnNXaX
— Callia A. Hargrove (@calliarmelle) January 23, 2018
racism in fashion shot // chaser!!! pic.twitter.com/Zo36nA9QjJ
— Tyler McCall (@eiffeltyler) January 23, 2018
Hours later, Duma issued an apology on her own Instagram page, writing that she is “very sorry” and “committed to inclusion and diversity.”
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She has since been removed from her position as a board member at The Tot, a decision announced Nasiba Adilova on Instagram.
While fashion may be making small strides towards more racial diversity, this is yet another reminder that there’s still a lot of work to be done in the industry.
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This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.