Sézane apologizes after the controversy over a video with a Zapotec woman in Mexico

Sézane assures that he never intended to use the photos of a woman from the Zapotec community taken in Mexico for his new campaign. They were “intended only for the designer’s backstage journal,” says the brand.

The French brand Sézane has been strongly criticized since the publication of a video of a photo shoot organized in Mexico. In these images, we can see an elderly woman from the Zapotec community sitting and wearing a green vest, photographed by several people who speak French. Some laugh and do not wear a mask. The woman is then invited by a member of the team to sketch a few dance steps, immortalized by the photographer.

Contacted by BFM Business, the Parisian brand confirms that at the beginning of January, “part of the Sézane team left for the Oaxaca region in Mexico to photograph one of its future collections”.

“No commercial vocation”

“These photos were intended only for the backstage newspaper of the designer”, assures us Sézane, who denies having organized a photo shoot with locals to advertise it.

On social networks, several Internet users claim that the Zapotec woman in the video received $ 10 to have her picture taken. Sézane denies en bloc and insists “that no payment has been made since these photos had no commercial vocation”.

But several elements of the video posted on social networks are confusing. On the one hand, you can hear someone talking, in French, about a change of shoes, as a stylist would suggest in a professional photoshoot.

In addition, the old lady wears a green waistcoat similar to those sold by the brand. Asked about the subject, Sézane did not wish to tell us whether or not this item of clothing was from his collection.

The Parisian brand certifies having met this woman “spontaneously three days previously in the streets of Teotitlán del Valle”. She would then “have agreed to come and share a lunch with the Sézane team and to participate in the photo shoot of the backstage newspaper”.

Mexico at war against cultural appropriation

The National Institute of Indigenous Peoples (INPI) condemned “the exploitation of the image of indigenous people by the Sézane brand” and launched “an appeal to brands and private companies to stop exploiting indigenous and Afro-Mexican peoples and communities as cultural capital “.

The official body announces that it wants to conduct an “investigation to act in accordance with the law”. The nationalist left government has its sights set on international fashion brands that plagiarize indigenous culture and craftsmanship in their clothing lines, denouncing “cultural appropriation”. In 2020, designer Isabel Marant apologized, accused of copying patterns for one of her coats.

“I want to express my deep apologies for my mistakes,” wrote Sézane founder Morgane Sézalory in a message in English shared Tuesday on the Instagram account of the NGO Lienzos extraordinarios.

“We heard, understood that our approach could have offended the local Mexican community. And we are sincerely sorry that it did not reflect the best intentions for the local community for whom we have deep respect”, concludes Sézane to BFM Business.

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