Dezeen Magazine

Katy Perry removes shoes from sale following blackface accusations

American pop star Katy Perry has removed two designs from her Katy Perry Collections shoe line after complaints that they resembled blackface.

The singer has apologised for any offence caused by the Rue Face slip-on loafer and the Ora Face block-heel sandal.

Both designs featured a face across the top of the shoe, featuring enlarged red lips. Combined with black leather – one of the colours the shoes were available in – the design resembles blackface, a style of theatrical makeup that is widely deemed racist and offensive.

Perry "saddened" by blackface accusations

The decision to drop them came after the products were heavily criticised by social media users.

"I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface," said Perry and her brand management firm Global Brands Group, in a statement issued to US news outlet Entertainment Tonight.


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"Our intention was never to inflict any pain," they said. "We have immediately removed them from Katy Perry Collections."

Shoes inspired by surrealist art

Perry's team claimed the shoes were inspired by surrealist imagery. They also stressed that they came in many other colours besides black.

"The Rue and The Ora were part of a collection that was released last summer in nine different colourways (black, blue, gold, graphite, lead, nude, pink, red, silver) and envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism," they said.

The designs are no longer listed on the Katy Perry Collections online store. Several online retailers have also followed suit, including Walmart and Dillards.

The controversy comes less than a week after Gucci was forced to discontinue a jumper accused of resembling blackface in response to outrage from consumers.

Katy Perry Collections and Gucci are not the only high fashion brands to be accused of racism. In December, Prada withdrew a series of key rings after accusations that they resembled black monkeys with large, red lips.