If you’ve never heard of Paris fashion brand A.P.C. and its founder, Jean Touitou, don’t worry, we’ll catch you up. Over the weekend, Mr. Touitou presented his fall line with models rocking “ghetto” Timberlands on the runway and the designer holding up a sign that read “LAST NI**AS IN PARIS” – yes, you read that correctly.
Touitou defended the use of the N-Word because the overlord of the term apparently is Kanye West and the pair are friends. Because of their friendship, Touitou took it upon himself to represent Black culture in what he explained to Style as the “Last Ni**a In Paris” look.
I call this one look Last N****s in Paris. Why? Because it’s the sweet spot when the hood—the ‘hood—meets Bertolucci’s movie Last Tango in Paris. So that’s ‘N****s in Paris’ and Last N****s in Paris…Yes, I mean, it’s nice to play with the strong signifiers. The Timberland here is a very strong ghetto signifier. In the ghetto, it is all the Timberlands, all the big chain. Not at the same time—never; it’s bad taste. So we designed Timberlands with Timberland.
Touitou, who founded A.P.C. in 1987, goes on to heave some more highbrow artsy fartsy crap over the steaming pile of dung he called an explanation:
I made looks which are a cross-over of those two references: the Timberland shoes and the sweat pants are iconic of hip-hop, and the camel hair color coat, worn with nothing under it, is iconic of that precise movie. I am friends with Kanye, and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and that this thing is only a homage to our friendship.
Touitou adds that Yeezy approved of the name of the collection and thus his homeboy pretty much said it was cool to use the N-word. And in case you weren’t aware, West does have a line with A.P.C. so maybe there’s more to this union than friendship.
That Kanye approved of Touitou’s reckless “ghettoization” during his fashion line showing isn’t shocking. The famed Chicago producer has since become ingrained in the fashion culture in Paris and has made some questionable statements regarding blackness despite his pointed opinions of the past. See: “Blood On The Leaves.”
However, it’d be fantastic if West checked his friend on cultural appropriation and how immediately aligning “the ghetto” and Black culture is dangerous—and racist. But, given West’s track record lately of not giving a damn about much outside his immediate circle, that’s probably a pipe dream.
For the record, Kanye West doesn’t speak for all Black people, so Jean Touitou shouldn’t get a pass to use the N-word.