- Designer Philipp Plein's tribute for Kobe Bryant at Milan Fashion Week has been described as "distasteful" and "tacky" by social media users.
- Tyga, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Olivia Culpo walked the runway in bedazzled limited-edition tank tops and hoodies that are part of the designer's "Plein 24" collection. The items, priced at over $2,000 and $3,000 respectively, honored Bryant with their purple and gold colors, jersey number 24 and images of a black mamba snake.
- But Plein was slammed for using a pair of gold helicopters as part of the show's decor. Bryant and his daughter, Gigi, were among nine people who died in a helicopter crash on January 26 — and fans didn't hold back on the vitriol.
- In his defense, Plein issued a statement that said, "The catwalk setup was already planned and designed in November 2019" and also highlighted his decision to donate all proceeds from the sales of "Plein 24" to the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation.
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German designer Philipp Plein attempted on Saturday to pay homage to late NBA icon Kobe Bryant during his Fall 2020 catwalk show at Milan Fashion Week. It didn't go as planned.
Celebrities, including rapper Tyga, actress Jada Pinkett-Smith, and model Olivia Culpo, strutted down the runway decked out in bedazzled limited-edition tank tops and hoodies in purple and gold. The colors honored the Los Angeles Lakers, Bryant's longtime basketball team, as did his jersey number 24 and a picture of a black mamba snake, after whom Bryant was nicknamed. Plein's last name replaced the team's tag on the gear, the Los Angeles Times reported.
But people flocked to social media to slam Plein for what they deemed the most egregious part of the presentation: a pair of gold helicopters that were part of the show's decor. Criticism was hurled at Plein for this crass handling of Bryant's cause of death, with one person described as "distasteful" and "tacky."
—ꪑꫀꪀᦔꫀꪶ (@gaultiercouture) February 23, 2020
Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter, Gianna, were among nine people traveling to the Mamba Sports Academy in Thousand Oaks, California, via a private helicopter that crashed into the Calabasas hills. No one survived and the victims were honored in a tearful memorial at the Lakers' home at the Staples Center on Monday.
Plein responded by issuing a statement to Page Six Style, which said in part, "The catwalk setup was already planned and designed in November 2019, way before this tragic accident occurred. This is the reason why they [sic] were gilded helicopters on the runway. I would have clearly removed them if possible, but it was too late to replace them."
The "Plein 24" collection includes a $2,070 tank top and $3,150 hoodie, and the proceeds will benefit the Mamba & Mambacita Sports Foundation, which was established to honor the legacy of Kobe and Gigi Bryant, the designer said.
"This tragedy affected myself and all the world deeply and I feel that my fashion show [was] the best moment to express my respect and admiration for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and his family," Plein's statement went on to say. "It is sad to see how something positive and constructive can be misinterpreted by people who obviously want to interpret negatively without even having a reason. As a matter of fact, I am really doing something to help and to support the foundation. Actions speak louder than words."
Plein's philanthropic actions weren't enough to appease people, though, and the backlash has continued.
—not particularly on brand (@natsantics) February 25, 2020
—Ty$ (@tysw0rld) February 24, 2020
—Jhon⚜ (@Jbandz2t) February 24, 2020
—Bliss Foster (@BlissFoster) February 23, 2020
This isn't Plein's first brush with drama.
He has invited musicians Tekashi 6ix9ine and Chris Brown, both of whom have been charged with sexual assault, to perform at his shows, Page Six reported. In 2019, he also waged a social media attacked on Alexandra Mondalek for describing his collection as "vapid, soulless and cheap."
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