Well, this is awkward. During A.P.C.’s fall menswear presentation, founder Jean Touitou presented the brand’s spring 2015 collection with a live narration that involved using the n-word repeatedly.
The collection — titled “Last N—s in Paris” (a nod to Jay Z and Kanye West’s 2011 hit single, “N—s in Paris” and the 1972 film Last Tango in Paris) — featured the brand’s collab with Timberland, with the models seen posing in camel overcoats and A.P.C.-designed Timberlands. According to Style.com, here’s what happened as Touitou introduced his new line:
Then he held up a sign that said, “Last Ni##@$ IN PARIS,” and gave us this exposition:
“I call this one look Last N****s in Paris. Why? Because it’s the sweet spot when the hood—the ‘hood—meets Bertolucci’s movie Last Tango in Paris. So that’s ‘N****s in Paris’ and Last N****s in Paris. [Nervous laughter from audience.] Oh, I am glad some people laughed with me. Yes, I mean, it’s nice to play with the strong signifiers. The Timberland here is a very strong ghetto signifier. In the ghetto, it is all the Timberlands, all the big chain. Not at the same time—never; it’s bad taste. So we designed Timberlands with Timberland…”
And on he went. Touitou likes to be irreverent. But what he said here seemed ill considered, at the very least.
In a follow-up statement to Style.com, Touitou explained that he got the approval to go forth with the idea from Yeezy, his former A.P.C. collaborator.
I am friends with Kanye [West, who recorded “Ni**as in Paris” with Jay Z], and he and I presented a joint collection at the same place, one year ago, and that this thing is only a homage to our friendship. As a matter of fact, when I came up with this idea, I wrote to him, with the picture of the look and the name I was giving to it, and he wrote back immediately saying something like, ‘I love this vibe.’
Even so, Touitou is still walking on rocky ground for using a racial slur.