Katy Perry pulls shoes resembling blackface

NEW YORK • Singer Katy Perry has apologised after shoes in her fashion line, Katy Perry Collections, drew outrage for resembling blackface.

It is the latest brand to pull offensive designs during this month, when Black History Month is observed.

The shoes, which featured large red lips, a wide triangular nose and blue eyes, were released last summer and came in nine colourways, including black.

When photos of the black shoes began circulating on social media, they prompted an immediate backlash.

A joint statement from Perry and her partner Global Brands Group said the shoes were part of a collection "envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism".

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

The shoes also disappeared from department store chain Dillard's website and they were not available at Lord & Taylor and Macy's on Tuesday.

The outcry followed a particularly clueless year for fashion designers.

More recently, both Gucci and Adidas apologised and pulled products widely viewed as racist: an US$890 (S$1,206) black Gucci knit top with a balaclava-style collar that covered half the face, the cutout for the mouth framed by large red lips; and entirely white Adidas shoes that were meant to commemorate Black History Month.

Film-maker Spike Lee announced on Instagram last week he would no longer wear Prada or Gucci "until they hire some black designers", adding that the companies "don't have a clue when it comes to racist, blackface hateful imagery".


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2019, with the headline 'Katy Perry pulls shoes resembling blackface'. Print Edition | Subscribe