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Fashion, make-up lines inspired by Ciudad Juarez spark apology

Rodarte tomo modo

The U.S. cosmetics company MAC, owned by Estee Lauder, and fashion house Rodarte have apologized for a controversial make-up line with product names such as "Quinceanera," "Ghost Town," "Factory," and "Juarez," making reference to the border city wracked by ongoing drug-related violence and a wave of killings of women.

The MAC make-up line of lipsticks and nail polishes was set for launch this fall. It was created in collaboration with Rodarte, founded by sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who are part Mexican and have said their recent clothing collection was inspired by Ciudad Juarez. MAC Cosmetics and Rodarte came under criticism in recent weeks for names in their collaborative make-up line. One lifestyle blog called it "horribly wrong" and "tasteless," noting that the product line refers to the Juarez maquiladora factories where women work for meager pay.

"Juarez is an impoverished Mexican factory town notorious for the number of women between the ages of 12 and 22 who have been raped and murdered with little or no response from police," said The Frisky.

Writer Sarah Menkedick, who lives in Mexico, made this critique: "In a sweep of total insouciance, for chic U.S. women, 'Factory' is an abstract consumable concept, a shade of mint frost, whereas for Mexican women in maquiladoras, it's a sweaty, oppressive place where they're frequently harassed, threatened, raped, and killed."

The make-up line was created in conjunction with Rodarte's latest fall/winter collection, presented earlier this year at New York Fashion Week. The L.A. Times fashion blog All the Rage noted that "the designers were inspired by the idea of workers in Mexican maquiladoras walking half-asleep to the factories in Juarez, after dressing in the dark."

If the dresses shown in the photo above don't strike you as how a sleep-deprived worker on the U.S.-Mexico border might be inspired to dress, you're probably not alone. Below is a photo of two working women from a recent exhibit on photography in Ciudad Juarez by the newspaper El Diario de Juarez, previously featured on La Plaza.

Juarez women diario

Style.com has photos of the collection and the Mulleavy sisters' explanation on the Juarez and maquiladora influence on their fashion line. The lifestyle blog Jezebel argued: "Rodarte has done collections inspired by Japanese horror movies (they made dresses dyed so that they looked like they were bleeding), but there's a huge difference between aestheticizing fictional violence and aestheticizing real violence."

In response to the criticism, MAC said in a statement posted on Facebook on Friday that it will donate all global profits from the limited-edition make-up line to a "newly created initiative to raise awareness and provide on-the-ground support to the women and girls in Juarez."

The statement came after a meeting in Mexico City between MAC officials and representatives of Mexico's commission on violence against women, the cosmetics company said. "MAC executives reiterated their deep regret and reinforced that it was never MAC's or Rodarte's intent to minimize the suffering of the women and girls of Ciudad Juarez."

The MAC and Rodarte companies said they would be renaming the products.

Violence against women remains a critical social issue in Ciudad Juarez. In January, a prominent human rights activist named Josefina Reyes was shot dead during an attempted kidnapping, sparking protests.

— Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Top: Montage of designs from the fall/winter 2010-2011 Rodarte fashion line, inspired by Ciudad Juarez. Credit: Modo / Bottom: Two women in Ciudad Juarez. Credit: 'Las Otras Batallas,' El Diario de Juarez.

Comments () | Archives (11)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Public Relations is the management function, which evaluates public attitudes, identifies policies and procedures for individuals and organizations with public interest, and plans, executes and evaluates a program of action to earn public understanding and acceptance.

Yes, this was very dumb of the designers, however, I love how they’re tackling the situation by donating the profits to help raise awareness and support these women.

I live in El Paso, Tx, which is right on the border of Juarez, Mexico. These designers are so incredibly stupid! The Mulleavy sisters have probably never even been to Juarez. If they had they would know that mexican women do not dress or look as horrendous as these skinny, ugly models. The poor women selling their wares on the line to cross the border dress better than this, even if they did dress in the dark. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I love all the smart comments. I havent seen many on this topic.

They weren´t thinking. They don´t do thinking.

This is 2010 and the people that you'd think would have more common sense and decency don't - even some part Mexicans. Shame on the Mullearys and MAC execs.

I guess that it was far more important for the part Mexican (and I guess it is not their brains) Mulleavy sisters and the make-up executives to imagine how these women look than to take the time to go to see them. Once again the factory women were exploited. It is 2010 and still the ignorance persists. This was totally tasteless and it showed a lack of respect for Mexican women, their culture, and experiences. I hope that this story will be become widely spread. Oh, I was just wondering if the "part" "Mexican Mulleavy sisters have ever made sure to use richly skin toned Mexican or part Mexican runway or print models?

If anyone's ever seen Zoolander, doesn't this sound a bit like the "Derelicte" line?
What's really disturbingly pathetic is the fact that companies make insensitive blunders like these, then attempt to save face and turn it around by "deciding" to dedicate X% of their profits to the cause they obliviously mocked. I'm not fooled, are you?

The insensitivity of MAC and Rodarte is astonishing.

They were doing what exploitative capitalists do, profit off those who are oppressed or maligned.

Whether the makeup name change happens or not, Mexican women will continue to disappear while the government looks the other way. Nice touch with the donations though.

Wow. What were they thinking? Great article. Gracias.


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