Monday, 19 July 2010

All Publicity is Good Publicity……..or is it?


Well here it is, my two'penneth on the whole MAC/Rodarte debacle.....

I held off posting this at 8 pm last night when the bulk of the posts on the subject went up because, firstly, I hadn't read up on the subject to put together an informed post and, secondly, because I was conscious that other bloggers would put together a much more eloquent post than I could. Having given more thought to the collaboration I decided that I would write a post on it, not because I want to jump onto some bandwagon, but because I’m genuinely shocked by what I have seen and read so far on this subject. I’m sure most of you have read countless posts on the subject, and if you don’t want to read another one I fully understand that, however I felt that I had to acknowledge what was going on, and put forwards my views on the subject.

When I initially read about the collaboration between MAC and Rodarte I thought "oh great, just what the world needs - another MAC collection". I'm not a massive MAC addict as my massive 3 purchases in the last 7 months is a testament to, so generally the collections just wash over me. However after hearing about the 'inspiration' behind the collection from various bloggers on Twitter, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to investigate.

First things first, we all know who MAC are, but for those of you who aren't 100% sure who Rodarte are, let me fill you in. Rodarte are a clothing and accessories label who have been around since 2005. According to Wikipedia: "Their style includes gothic and distressed designs, and layered gowns".

I first heard about the hoo-ha surrounding this collection when I spotted one of Mizzworthy's tweets. Being the nosy parker that I am I decided to investigate a bit further, and went straight to every-internet user's best friend: Google. Basically, the bottom line is this: though the collection was supposedly inspired by the Mexican landscape (which to me would scream warm, earthy tones), the chalky, deathly palette and the names of the products in the collection suggest that it was inspired by something altogether more sinister - the infamous Mexican border town Juarez and its recent history.

Juarez, as you may or may not know, is an industrial city in the Chihuahua region of Mexico which is famous for both its 'maquiladoras' and its staggering number of 'femicides'. A maquiladora is essentially an export assembly plant/factory set up by foreign companies to secure cheap labour. These are mainly located along the US/Mexico border. The average maquiladora worker will earn around $3.40 per day, which is approximately 33% lower than the American HOURLY minimum wage. The majority of maquiladora workers are female and though the legal working age is 16, it is not uncommon for 12, 13 and 14 year olds with false documents to be put to work.

The 'femicides' is the name given to the shocking number of violent deaths of young female students and factory workers aged between 12 and 22 in Juarez. Many of the bodies found showed evidence of rape and torture. There is some inconsistency between the 'official' figures of 400 deaths since 1993 and local estimations of more than 5,000, but whichever way you look at it the numbers are overwhelming. If the numbers weren’t shocking enough, the local attitudes to the killings is even more stomach churning. The police have become so blasé about the situation in Juarez, it is estimated that they only actually file one report for every eight missing women reported. Further, it has become a common belief, not only among law enforcement but also locals that the women who go missing (and worse) have brought it on themselves. One quote which particularly sticks in my throat is this: "Unfortunately, there are women who are in danger because of their lifestyles. After all, it's very hard to go out on the street when it's raining and not get wet." It is very hard to believe that these abhorrent words came from the mouth of the then attorney general of the state of Chihuahua, Arturo González Rascón. These shocking comments, along with a rapidly rise in the rate of murders and disappearances, led to the formation of Nuestras Hijas de Regreso a Casa A.C. ("May our Daughters Return Home, Civil Association") in 2001; a group of family members of the victims of femicides who have tirelessly been campaigning to raise awareness and lobby the Mexican government to recognise the extent of the problem in Juarez.

Taking all of this into account, it seems in unbelievably bad taste that MAC and Rodarte should see fit to release a collection where the products are given names such as “Factory”, “Ghost Town”, “Juarez” and “Sleepless”.

The official line:

"We understand that product names in the MAC Rodarte collection have offended some of our consumers and fans. This was never our intent and we are very sorry. We are listening carefully to the comments posted and are grateful to those of you who have brought your concerns to the forefront of our attention. MAC will give a portion of the proceeds from the MAC Rodarte collection to help those in need in Juarez. We are diligently investigating the best way to do this. Please be assured that we will keep you posted on the details regarding our efforts."

"Our makeup collaboration with MAC developed from inspirations on a road trip that we took in Texas last year, from El Paso to Marfa. The ethereal nature of this landscape influenced the creative development and desert palette of the collection. We are truly saddened about injustice in Juarez and it is a very important issue to us. The MAC collaboration was intended as a celebration of the beauty of the landscape and people in the areas that we traveled."

I appreciate that Rodarte are a brand which appear to take inspiration from the macabre, and also that MAC is a brand which has a huge focus on artistry and expressing yourself through make-up but I strongly believe that there is a line which has been crossed by this collection. I don’t see anything artistic about  glamourising this type of tragic situation, and it is to me ghoulish (for want of a better word) to attempt to justify the collection and its inspiration as art. I am shocked and saddened that such a huge brand as MAC would wish to produce a collection which is in my eyes in such bad taste, especially after all the good work that has been done by the Viva Glam line. I understand that an argument could be made that this collection has raised awareness of the atrocities in Juarez, but I firmly believe that this could have been done in other, less offensive ways, and I feel that MAC have made a token gesture by offering a percentage of the profits to the people of Juarez. Call me cynical, but I can't help but feel that this would never have entered their conscience without the outcry from bloggers.

For more information on Juarez and the femicides, please click here.

To see some other bloggers' take on the collection please click on the links below:

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