NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Prada’s SoHo is being accused of a fashion fail and has been forced to pull what some are calling a blackface window display following increasing complaints.
It was the face on a new line of Prada bags, jewelry, t-shirts, key chains, and more.
A character named Otto was prominently displayed in store windows on Broadway in the SoHo shop. Many in the area shook their heads with disbelief at how Otto was designed.
“That’s really upsetting,” Rachel Ylanet said.
Among the first to call attention to the display’s controversial look was a staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights; declaring it “blackface imagery,” “racist,” and “denigrating.”
The messages prompted some to stand outside the store and try and persuade shoppers to go elsewhere.
“How it got this far, how it made it to a store display then no one said ‘maybe this is not a good idea’ baffles me even more,” window shopper Shannon told CBS2’s Dave Carlin.
Prada did not stand behind that display, putting up another one hastily before putting out a statement.
The company contented that these are “imaginary creatures” and “certainly not blackface.”
Fans of the brand think the controversy has been blown out of proportion.
“When I first saw them thought I didn’t think anything of it,” Joel Smith said.
“I’m not gonna look at that and say ‘oh my god that’s racist.’”
Prada executives said they abhor all forms of racism and racist imagery, but New York City councilman Jumaane Williams wants more from Prada.
“It was not an apology. There’s no way you could not know this was racist… You shouldn’t be in business,” the candidate for New York City public advocate said.
Prada not only withdrew the characters from display, they also stopped selling them.
The now defunct figures were part of the “Pradamalia” line, the company described them as “one part biological, one part technological, and all parts Prada.”