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Controversy Surrounds Balmain’s Autumn/Winter 2024 Collection at Paris Fashion Week

Backlash Erupts Over Alleged Design Copying and Lack of Credit
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Paris Fashion Week is usually a time of excitement and anticipation for new collections, but the latest showcase from Balmain has stirred mixed reactions and controversy. Olivier Rousteing, the creative director of Balmain, is facing backlash after the launch of the menswear collection on January 20, with accusations of copying a design from African brand Tongoro.

The controversy centers around the “Cairo” face jewellery piece, with Balmain’s followers initially speculating about a potential collaboration between Rousteing and Tongoro. However, it became apparent that there was no credit given to the African brand for the inspiration.

Sarah Diouf, the founder of Tongoro, took to social media to express her disappointment and draw attention to the broader issue of African designers being discredited by Western brands. In her statement, she highlighted the painful nature of such events, questioning the sincerity of Western brands claiming to appreciate African creativity while allegedly copying it without proper acknowledgment.

“The visible similarity of the piece presented by @olivier_rousteing for his @balmain FW24 Men’s collection to ours is a challenging and painful event, questioning yet again the actual regards Western brands claim to have towards African creativity while openly saying being ‘inspired’ by it … How long?” Diouf wrote.

Diouf shared the inspiration behind the “Cairo” face jewellery, which she launched in May 2019 in Dakar, drawing from the traditional face painting of the Wodaabe tribe men during their Gerewol ceremony. The piece gained rapid popularity, with celebrities like Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, and Naomi Campbell showcasing it.

Fashion enthusiasts and followers flooded Rousteing’s Instagram comments, urging him to address the allegations and give proper credit to Diouf. However, as of now, both Balmain and Rousteing have yet to respond to the accusations, leaving the controversy unresolved.

January 22, 2024

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