A couple of British fashion designers have discovered a new muse: Adolf Hitler.
At Alexander McQueen’s latest show, his McQ line featured leather jackets and vests adorned with Nazi eagles and the Iron Cross. Voyage, another London-based label, took matters a step further: The dresses in its new line, Year 0, featured foot-high swastikas.
Neither Voyage nor McQueen, who designs McQ for Gucci, is a stranger to controversy. McQueen’s previous work included a show titled “Highland Rape,” in which models wore torn dresses. Voyage, meanwhile, made headlines for banning supermodel Naomi Campbell, who is black, from its London boutique in 2001.
The designers appear to be taking their cues from Prince Harry, who showed up at a costume party last year wearing the uniform of Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corps. Voyage and McQueen are both regarded as movers and shakers known for outlandish stunts.
“If the Voyage designers Rocky Mazzilli and his mother, Louise, are to be believed,” London’s Times reported last month, “swastika is the new black.” London’s fashion world, however, wasn’t buying. Reactions were swift and damning.
“I have no problem with fashion poking fun, making political and social commentary,” wrote Suzie Bubble on the fashion industry blog Style Bubble, “but there are some things that should be left well alone, and this is one of them.”
Another critic of McQueen and Voyage is New York-based Jewish designer Levi Okunov. In an interview with Radar, an online magazine, Okunov said that while he used to consider McQueen a hero, the designer’s use of Nazi symbolism is so cliché, even Hitler wouldn’t wear it.
Nazi influence in the fashion world is nothing new. Hugo Boss designed Wehrmacht and SS uniforms early in his career, and Coco Chanel had an affair with a Nazi officer and is believed to have been a Nazi sympathizer.