A.P.C.'s Jean Touitou presented his Fall/Winter 2015 collection this past weekend during Paris Fashion Week, which included an upcoming collaboration with Timberland. While the clothes were certainly noteworthy, most of the attention was drawn to something Touitou himself did during the show. For those who aren't aware, Touitou typically holds up handwritten signs to signify new portions of the presentation. When four models were ushered in wearing grey sweatpants and A.P.C.-designed Timberlands, the designer held up a sign that said, "Last Ni##@$ IN PARIS," and gave 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…"
Contacted by Style.com after the show, Touitou clarified his position, that sign, and that speech by saying: "One hip-hop song is called 'N***** in Paris.' One movie is called 'Last Tango in Paris.'
"I made looks which are a cross-over of those two references: the Timberland shoes and the sweat pants are iconic of hip-hop, and the camel hair color coat, worn with nothing under it, is iconic of that precise movie. 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.'"
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UPDATE: Complex is reporting that Timberland has decided to pull out of their collaboration with A.P.C. after learning of Jean Touitou's controversial remarks. "We have chosen to immediately terminate our involvement with the A.P.C. brand," Timberland president Stewart Whitney said in a statement. "Simply stated, this kind of language and approach is in complete contrast with our values," Whitney added. "Timberland seeks to collaborate with designers and brands who are at the forefront of lifestyle trends; equally important, they must also share our values. We will not tolerate offensive language or racial slurs of any kind being associated with the Timberland brand."