Céline’s Trompe L’Oeil ‘Pedicure’ Shoe Causes Race Row

In the past, avant-garde designer Phoebe Philo has caught the fashion world’s attention with her eye-catching designs, simple tailoring and beautifully structured leather goods. British born, Philo graduated from Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London in 1996, a year after Stella McCartney.

She was awarded the “British Designer of the Year” by the British Fashion Council for the second time in December 2010 and in June 2011 received the coveted “International Designer of the Year” by the CFDA. She has worked as the Creative Director of Céline since September 2008 and established her career with stints at Chloe. So you’d think that with this kind of reputation, a fashion faux pax would be out of the question, but evidently not.

Trompe L'Oeil Pedicure shoe

Tucked away in this seasons collection, which feature some truly fabulous fluffy kitten heels in outlandish colours, leather bags that look like a cute rolled up newspaper, and the iconic relaxed suits in luxurious textures that we have come to expect and love, were a pair of conspicuous shoes.

The Trompe l’Oeil ‘Pedicure’ Shoe is quite an ingenious design when you first glance at it; the shoe is shaped with toes that have been painted blood-red, saving you the time and expense of a pedicure. There’s only one problem, the shoe only comes in nude, or ‘lily white’. A colour therefore that only white people will be able to wear.

So why not an array of racially correct shoes? Why not a selection for Coloureds, Asians, Chinese, mixed race even? Why would Philo want to discount every other ethnicity apart from her own?

Phoebe Philo

We do not think that this design was intentional and this is sadly a reflection on the fashion industry in general.

We bet that it probably did not even occur to the fashion house Céline to make the ‘pedicure’ shoe in different colours, and not because they actively want to limit the shoe to only white women.

They failed to see that by making it in a fair skin colour and by calling it ‘flesh toned’, they are saying that this means light skin and black or coloured women are simply not represented in the fashion industry.

And we don’t think we are making a huge fuss about nothing here. This sends a very loud but silent message out and effectively excludes a certain ethnic group from wearing a particular item of clothing.

And that’s not right in our view. And we are not the only ones. An article in The Cut magazine concurs. So what do you think? Over sensitive or under thought out? We’d love to hear your views.