Chanel £1,130 boomerang sparks cultural appropriation row
Fashion label's 'accessory' outrages aboriginal artists and activists
Chanel is at the centre of a cultural appropriation storm after it was accused of "humiliating" aboriginal Australians by selling a boomerang as part of its latest collection.
The £1,130 wood and resin "boomerang", bearing the fashion house's interlocking CC logo, appears in the accessories section, alongside a £2,860 beach racket and ball set, a £1,300 tennis racket and a £330 set of tennis balls.
It hit the headlines when US make-up artist Jeffree Star shared an image of one to online followers on Twitter, The Guardian reports.
The piece was greeted with scorn and derision from indigenous Australians online.
Aboriginal artist Alison Page expressed disbelief at Chanel's move given multiple recent instances in which fashion companies have been accused of cultural appropriation.
It marked "a new level of ignorance", she told the Daily Telegraph, adding: "It's 2017 and people haven't worked out yet that appropriating another culture’s artefacts and putting your brand on it is offensive."
Madeline Hayman-Reber, a member of the Gomeroi people, argued the controversy was a symptom of the larger issue of indigenous communities and their artwork being exploited and marginalised.
"Fake art is a massive problem in the world of indigenous art, and boomerangs are the tip of the iceberg," she wrote on Australia's SBS news site.
She added that boomerangs, handmade by indigenous craftsmen, were part of aboriginal heritage and imbued with cultural meaning. A designer brand was using one to make money was "a slap in the face to all the indigenous artists actively sharing Aboriginal culture", she said.
Although similar objects have been used by peoples around the world, the boomerang has come to be strongly identified with the native inhabitants of Australia, who historically used the curved tool as a weapon for hunting.
The world's oldest surviving boomerang , found in a peat bog in South Australia, is believed to be 10,000 years old.
A Chanel spokesman said the label was "extremely committed to respecting all cultures and regrets that some may have felt offended", but did not confirm whether the boomerang will remain on sale.