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Is This Miu Miu Dress Mocking the Holocaust?

A photo of a Miu Miu plaid dress with a yellow star appliqué seen in the window of Canadian luxury retailer Holt Renfrew circulated on social media over the weekend, and people are outraged.

This Miu Miu dress’s appliqué looks very familiar. Image by facebook

Comments on a closed Facebook forum ranged from, “They spelled Jew wrong,” to “Shame on them!” Some observed that the star shape in question only had five points and wasn’t actually a Jewish star, but that the placement and symbolism is what concerned them. Others thought the dress itself was cute, but that the overall look was tone-deaf.

A chambray blouson-sleeve button-down with a red star “Alain” patch and “miu miu” name tag patch. Image by net-a-porter

The star patches, which only have five points and do not have the six points of a Jewish star, are outlined in black and have different names inscribed, such as “John” (as with their most offensive yellow version) and “Alain” (their red star).

Digging deeper, it’s less of an anti-Semitic statement and more of an unwitting similarity.

It seems that Miu Miu, the girlish sister brand to Prada with a fun, slightly eccentric aesthetic, had “back-to-school” on the brain with this collection. This collection, which was a straight-to-retail concept and did not grace the runway (but whose patches share similarities with the racing-themed 2018 Resort show), is filled with pleated plaid skirts, juvenile jumpers and collegiate bombers. And the patches are an extension of the school-girl idea. There is a “miu-miu” name tag patch, a sigil-esque fox patch and, yes, the star patch.

An emerald green velour jacket with a collegiate patch underneath a pink “Jack” star. Image by net-a-porter

If I were to hazard a guess, the star patch is meant to resemble the gold foil star stickers teachers use for good behavior and good marks on tests.

And not all applications of this star patch even look like the ones Jews were forced to wear in 1939.

For example, the yellow “John” star patch against the backdrop of a red tartan miniskirt more closely resembles a sheriff’s badge (which also has 5 points). Then there are other variations of the star, such as a pink “Jack” star patch on a velvet green jacket and a blouson chambray button-down with a red “Alain” star patch outlined in turquoise.

This yellow star patch appliquéd onto this tartan miniskirt looks more like a sheriff’s badge than a Magen David. Image by Ssense.com

This isn’t the first time designers have come up with questionable design ideas. In 2014, Zara was forced to pull a striped shirt with a yellow star badge. Unlike the star of David, the star in Zara’s rendition had five points, with a circle at each point, like a sheriff’s badge. But because the star was yellow and on a striped shirt, it looked too similar to the uniforms concentration camp victims were forced to wear.

In that vein, the most offensive Miu Miu star-patch look is the one where the yellow star stands out as being, you know, a yellow star. Such as with this faux-shearling trimmed denim jacket with the yellow “John” star.

The star patch on a Miu Miu denim jacket. Image by net-a-porter

In these tense times, where actual Nazis roam the streets without fear and Jews are increasingly harassed by Jew-haters of all stripes, this kind of outfit seems at best tasteless and, at worst, an ignorance of the symbols that define one of the worst atrocities committed in recent memory.

Miu Miu was not immediately available for comment.

Michelle Honig is a writer at the Forward. Find her on Instagram and Twitter.

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