OK, I know that’s a big accusing question, am I really going to say something disparaging about one of the Gods of fashion? *Gulp*
Let me explain myself. About a month or so ago I was sent an email from a volunteer working with Born Free USA, she asked if I would like to donate one of my animal design teepees to a charity auction they were organizing to raise funds and awareness for 7 particular animals. They had been stolen from the wild by poachers and intercepted in Africa en route to the Middle East where wealthy idiots, I mean paying customers, wanted to own them (as if free, wild creatures could be owned by anyone in the first place) as pets. Pets.
3 lion cubs. A fully grown majestic male lion. A cheetah and 3 cubs (2 of which died of fright in the process), were all amongst the cargo of stolen lives.
It’s taken me weeks to get the words together to write this, I’m so saddened and angry about it, and still don’t have the words but here goes anyway.
How can this be happening? We all know that these creatures are endangered right? We all know that it’s wrong to take a wild thing from its home, to snatch it, risk it’s life and keep it for ourselves. They don’t fit our ways, they have their own ways, not ours.
And yet, whilst there is a demand for exotic ‘pets’, it continues to happen. Some people are poor and will do anything, ANYTHING for money the that they need. It has been a status symbol for wealthy people to own exotic pets for decades. As if they can’t think of anything else to spend their spare thousands on that will make their life complete (or just to show off to their peers), there’s only so many [blood?] diamond encrusted dog collars, powdered Rhino horns, gold-plated i-phones a person needs right, before they NEED a cheetah cub to lounge by their infinity pool?
I get quite a few charity donation requests and can’t/don’t supply most of them, I just can’t afford to but this one struck a chord. I was still processing the information, talking to my kids about it, trying to explain why anyone would or could steal and sell a wild, free animal from its home, they were shocked and appalled (even 6 and 9 year olds know how fundamentally wrong it is), I sat down to drink my tea and picked up a copy of Harper’s Bazaar I had been sent, I opened it and couldn’t believe what I was seeing…the Spring 2017 Gucci ad campaign…
Does anyone else see this for what it is? Or are we all too wrapped up in the emperor’s new clothes?!
I mean COME ON. How do you even get animals to pose like this? Are they trained form a young age? Are they drugged? I don’t care if they are rescued and saved and then ‘put to work’ this is giving a message, a lifestyle image, glamorising and aspiration inducing, trend setting.
Gucci, what the actual F are you doing?
I get that you are a trailblazing, art making, fashion forward multi million $ company with an image to live up to ( I LOVED the S/S 2016 campaign btw) but you also have a moral responsibility with choices to make, because you shape people’s self-image, those who can afford you, they have more money than sense in some cases and they want the whole damn look. Lion and all.
This is my open letter to Gucci’s Alessandro Michele. What do you think of the trafficking of endangered animals? Do you care? What would you like to say on the subject? Though I don’t assume you condone or even in the slightest way would actively want to encourage such a practice, can you acknowledge that the message your 2017 Spring campaign gives is one of mainstreaming and normalizing the notion of exotic animals as pets? Don’t just tell me that ‘no animals were harmed in the production of these images and videos’, that is not the bigger picture here. No matter how ‘surreal’ it is ment to be, unfortunately some people can afford make this their reality. Reality bites, in this case I hope it bites their asses off.
Would any of you like to make a donation to help the animals pictured below that were trafficked and impounded on their way to being sold as exotic pets?
To the people reading this blog post, would you like to tell the idiots who want to buy wild, endangered animals that it is sick and wrong to do so? Then share this blog post on your social media, tweet it, write your own, get it out there email it to Gucci, to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and all the other magazines being paid to advertise it…how much money did the lions and tigers get paid for their star appearance do you honestly think? Who’s profiting from this exploitation and how can we let it happen!?
These words and thoughts are my own and are not in association with any member of Born Free USA.
I am expressing my opinion because I can. We still have freedom of speech here. What is the point of us decent human beings if we don’t speak up for what we believe in?
If you care about it, shout it out people! Don’t just stand by and expect someone else to bother…make yourself useful, make your self proud. Make yourself matter. Make a difference.
If you are curious, here is the tent I designed for the Born Free USA silent auction to help raise the money necessary to care for these trafficked animals.
You have to do what you can…don’t just sit around, get involved!