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Katy Perry faces criticism over shoe design resembling blackface

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First it was Prada. Then Gucci. Now, Katy Perry is being called out for creating fashion that evokes blackface. The singer's namesake brand faces criticism over two styles of shoes that some say feature racist imagery.

Posted: Feb 13, 2019 8:30 AM
Updated: Feb 13, 2019 8:30 AM

First it was Prada. Then Gucci. Now, Katy Perry is being called out for creating fashion that evokes blackface.

The singer's namesake brand faces criticism over two styles of shoes that some say feature racist imagery.

Perry debuted her line of whimsical shoes in 2017 in a partnership with Global Brands Group. The shoes are available on the brand's website, Katy Perry Collections, and through retailers around the world including Dillard's and Walmart in the United States.

The two styles in question, Ora Face Block Heel and Rue Face Slip-On Loafers, were released in summer 2018 as part of a collection in nine colors, including black, Perry and Global Brands Group said in a statement.

Both styles include the same protruding eyes, nose and full red lips. They were "envisioned as a nod to modern art and surrealism," according to the joint statement.

The black shoes in both styles drew comparisons to blackface, the racist face-painting practice that started as a way for white performers to mock enslaved Africans in minstrel shows using black paint and exaggerated facial features.

"Another one to add to your blackface file," one person said on Twitter.

Others sarcastically remarked that the shoes would go well with a black Gucci sweater that also evoked blackface.

The Italian luxury brand apologized for its "wool balaclava jumper," which pulls up over the nose and includes a cutout for the mouth with oversized red lips.

Prada apologized for monkey-like figures with black faces and large red lips and pledged to withdraw some of the products.

To some, the recent fashion gaffes coupled with a blackface controversy involving Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam made the timing of Perry's shoes all the more vexing.

The shoes have been removed from the Katy Perry Collections, Perry and Global said.

"I was saddened when it was brought to my attention that it was being compared to painful images reminiscent of blackface. Our intention was never to inflict any pain," the joint statement said.

The sandal and the loafer were temporarily available on the Dillard's website.

On Monday afternoon, images and descriptions of the shoes were replaced with the message, "This item is not available for internet purchase." Dillard's has not responded to CNN's request for comment.

A Walmart spokesperson said these styles of Perry's shoes were never available in brick and mortar stores.

The company has not responded to CNN's question about whether they were sold on its website.

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