Time's Style Icon List Honors Terrible People

(Photo by Dave Bennett/Getty Images)When Time unveiled its 100 style icons list this week, the biggest controversy was that the Olsen twins made the cut. Nobody blinked at the inclusion of four other names on the list, all synonymous with racism, anti-semitism or body image intolerance.
We're used to the beautiful industry being ugly on the inside.

High fashion may be fickle, but its unfailingly accepting of it's inner circle. If you're in good standing, then being ignorant makes you a "bad boy" or "controversial" and being abusive makes you nothing more than a "diva."

Here are four style "icons" on Time's list, who probably shouldn't be influencing anyone.

Naomi Campbell: Alleged recipient of blood diamonds and "inconvenienced" war crime witness. Beyond her appearance in the Hague, you may also be familiar with her multiple arrests for physical abuse. She's been accused of assaulting at least ten people, including employees, associates and even police. "When you're a fashion pioneer, you've earned the right to be a diva once in a while," writes the Time caption, whimsically justifying her inclusion on the list of influencers. In other words, being beautiful on magazine covers gives you a free pass to repeatedly physically abuse people? Only in fashion.

John Galliano:
"I love Hitler... People like you would be dead. Your mothers, your forefathers would all be f---ing gassed." Those are the words of fashion's "iconic" designer in a video rant from 2010. The following year he was caught belting out a similar anti-semitic tirade to strangers. Fellow industry vets dismissed Galliano's diatribes as "theater." In a surprising acknowledgement of his unaccetable behavior, the House of Dior dismissed the designer from his role as creative director. But if Time's description of Galliano as "fashion's enfant terrible" is any indication, all has been forgiven and virtually forgotten.

Karl Lagerfeld: He lost 90 pounds and professed that fashion is the best reason lose weight. Unfortunately thousands of young girls and women already felt that way, but it doesn't help when an icon in the industry confirms it. In 2004 he opposed H&M making larger sizes of his designs because his fashion is for "slim, slender people." He also thinks the gorgeous, role-model singer Adele is "too fat" as are moms, anyone who watched the royal wedding, and anyone who thinks runway models are too thin. What does it mean for us when a person suffering from body dysmorphia dictates how people should dress? Therapy, lots of it.

Franca Sozzani: If you're editor-in-cheif of a major fashion magazine, you've got two real responsibilities: go to runway shows and make sure nothing insanely racist or offensive goes to print. For a while, Sozanni was successful, even, as fashion types love to say, a "pioneer," for launching one issue featuring only black models and another featuring plus-size models. Hooray! Then last year Sozzani dropped the ball on one of her two responsibilities, when an article in her magazine, Italian Vogue, featured a trend story on "slavery earrings" making light of the hardships and brutal struggles during America's most shameful era.
"If the name brings to the mind the decorative traditions of the women of color who were brought to the southern Unites States during the slave trade, the latest interpretation is pure freedom," read the jaw-dropping original article, which Sozanni later blamed on a mis-translation.

It's hard to imagine any other industry that would so publicly embrace or overlook the offenses of their own. Aren't there any more "icons" to celebrate or influencers to credit or is turnover so sluggish in the hierarchy of fashion that even failures get name-checked in a list of 100?

The problem is a lack of self-regulation with in the industry. As arbiters of taste, those style leaders are used to brushing off public opinion as tacky or obvious and embracing the subversive how ever out of touch it may be. Fashion's inner-circle is like a house of spoiled trust-fund children sprinkled with a few absentee parents who'd rather tolerate their children's indiscretions than confront them. If this Time 100 list has taught us anything, it's that it's time to kick some of these kids out of the house.

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