Rihanna delivered the third edition of her star-studded Savage x Fenty Fashion Show via Amazon Prime on Friday. And while most fans praised the brand for its inclusivity, a couple of the celebrity models’ hairstyles raised some eyebrows.
Actress Vanessa Hudgens and model Emily Ratajkowski, who are both white, walked the runway in cornrow hairstyles. Ratajkowski’s run was interestingly timed to have her appear on-screen just as Rihanna is heard saying, “Mad ethnic right now” at the beginning of the N.E.R.D. song “Lemon.”
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And fans on Twitter did not approve.
I wish I could write something as funny as Rihanna putting all these white girls in braids for the fenty show
— raina (@quakerraina) September 24, 2021
Couple things that made me go „meh“ at Riri‘s #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW . First thing is all the white girls in braids. For what? Anyways. Next is Emily Ratajkowski walking her walk during the „mad ethnic right now“ line while … wearing braids 😭 Hunny she’s polish-israeli.
— khlo 🧚🏽 (@c_contemplatess) September 26, 2021
This isn’t the first time Rihanna and the Savage x Fenty team have come under fire for cultural missteps in the production of the annual fashion show presented in partnership with Amazon. Last year, the singer turned business maven was forced to issue an apology after Muslim viewers noted that one portion of the show was choreographed to a song that interpolated an Islamic verse.
“I’d like to thank the Muslim community for pointing out a huge oversight that was unintentionally offensive in our savage x fenty show,” she wrote in a statement via her Instagram story following the incident last October. “I would more importantly like to apologize to you for this honest, yet careless mistake. We understand that we have hurt many of our Muslim brothers and sisters, and I’m incredibly disheartened by this!”
Questions about cultural appropriation aside, the response to the Savage x Fenty Volume 3 show has been overwhelmingly positive. The show, which featured appearances and performances by Erykah Badu, Nas, Jazmine Sullivan, Normani and many more, also showcased a variety of skin tones and body types.
What I love the most about #SAVAGEXFENTYSHOW is just the all around inclusion of literally everyone. I don’t think anyone who watched didn’t atleast see one person who looked like them !
— BAD Guy (@dicockyhooligan) September 26, 2021