Designer Philipp Plein is catching heat for a Kobe Bryant tribute included in his Fall 2020 runway show during Milan Fashion Week on Saturday.
Plein’s show featured models (including former Miss Universe Olivia Culpo and Jada Pinkett Smith) wearing bedazzled Los Angeles Lakers-inspired jerseys with Bryant’s number 24. The runway featured several gold-coated vehicles, and two helicopters.
He defended the show in a statement to USA TODAY, noting that the catwalk aesthetic was planned and designed in November, “way before this tragic accident occurred” on Jan. 26.
“This is the reason why they were gilded helicopters on the runway,” Plein wrote. “I would have clearly removed them if possible, but it was too late to replace them.”
Plein’s website features a limited edition “Plein 24” capsule collection: a bedazzled Lakers-inspired jersey for $2,070 and a purple and yellow hoodie version available for $3,150. Both feature Kobe’s number 24 and Plein’s name in place of the Lakers and NBA logos.
“Philipp Plein made two gold helicopters for his show today, which falls 27 days after Kobe died in a helicopter crash,” one person tweeted, via Page Six. “BUT DONT WORRY he whipped up a bunch of Swarovski Kobe jerseys (with “Plein” written on them??) so it’s cool. F—k you, Philipp.”
“Distasteful, tacky & material waste,” another critic added. “Philipp plein who has so long been making clothing that adds nothing but clutter to the fashion landscape has decided to include gold helicopters along his crystal basketball jerseys after the passing of Kobe & Gianna Bryant. It’s disgusting.”
The designer said in his statement that profits from his “Plein 24” collection will be dedicated to Bryant’s Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.
“This tragedy affected myself and all the world deeply and I feel that my fashion show have [sic] been the best moment to express my respect and admiration for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and his family,” the statement continued.
“It is sad to see how something positive and constructive can be misinterpreted by people who obviously want to interpret negatively without even having a reason. As a matter of fact, I am really doing something to help and to support the foundation. Actions speak louder than words.”
[ione_media_gallery id=”816108″ overlay=”true”]
This article appears on Black America Web