Dalida’s “Flower Time”, bird songs in the background, pretty colors and broad smiles … At first glance, the video footage relayed this week by several accounts on social networks features a beautiful meeting between the teams of the French brand Sézane and a resident of the town of Teotitlán delle Valle, in southern Mexico. The accompanying scold indicates just the opposite.
“After Isabel Marant, it is the turn of the French brand Sézane to land in Oaxaca with its big clogs, seizing the city, its surroundings and its inhabitants”, storms on his Instagram account Manuela Nadxiee’lii. This young Mexican mother introduces herself as a textile artist and explains that she is interested in current events in the ready-to-wear industry, while posing as the guardian of Mexican culture and more particularly that of the State of Oaxaca, south of Mexico, where she is from.
“No ethics”, Manuela Nadxiee’lii indignantly, while accompanying her ulcerated speech with a video, and hashtags #respetasezane and #oaxacanoestubodega – #RespectSezane and #OaxacaNestPasTaBoutique. Quickly, regulars of the brand relay his messages and Sézane is asked for explanations.
What happened ?
At the beginning of January, part of Sézane’s team flew to Mexico in order to take photos that will highlight a future collection of the brand. Sunday, the Instagram account @ lienzos.extraordinarios, belonging to Manuela Nadxiee’lii, relayed a video of which we do not know who is the author, or by whom it was disclosed, showing Sézane employees around the founder of the brand, Morgane Sézalory, in the process of “improvising” a shoot featuring an elderly lady all smiles, to which a woman, obviously the team’s photographer, addresses in Spanish.
A dance scene between the two women follows, to an air by Dalida, all in front of the professional team, concentrated. AT minima, a camera and a smartphone seem to record the scene.
What exactly is the brand criticized for?
Manuela Nadxiee’lii first criticizes the brand for having disturbed the peaceful life of the small Mexican town, contrary to what, she said, had been discussed upstream with the municipality. “The Sézane team thought it would be easy to film an elderly woman from the Teotitlán delle Valle market. It doesn’t matter if they agreed with the municipality that they would leave people alone. Sézane didn’t care, and almost as if the woman were an accessory, they dressed her (the sweater she is wearing is part of their collection) and made her dance by offering her 200 Mexican pesos, or about 10 dollars “, accuses Manuela Nadxiee’lii, punctuating its publication with a nervous” enough, enough, enough “.
Manuela Nadxiee’lii therefore accuses Sézane of having disrespected this inhabitant, staged in what looks, a priori, to a shooting setting, and of having paid her – a small sum – for it. “Traditional Mexican cultures are not a zoo. We are not props. We are not an open catalog of design. We are not at the service of international brands, ”scolds the artist. The latter goes further by accusing Sézane of participating in the “bursts of colonialism” which plague the State of Oaxaca, the scene of Western shootings deployed in these exotic settings without respect for the local populations.
How does Sézane respond?
In a response to Le Parisien on Wednesday, the French brand, which has not yet communicated on this subject on its various networks, denies having paid any sum to the inhabitant of Teotitlán delle Valle. “These photos were intended only for the newspaper backstage of the designer. No payment was made, since these photos had no commercial purpose. These are the photos of a woman spontaneously met three days previously in the streets of Teotitlán delle Valle, who had agreed to come and share a lunch with the Sézane team and participate in the newspaper’s photo shoot. backstage », Indicates the claw.
In another response, this time sent privately by Morgane Sézalory to Manuela Nadxiee’lii, and that the latter has made public, the creator of the brand insists on the “connection” which led her to meet this old lady three days after their meeting. “Regardless of the question of our origins, it was a question of two hearts that meet,” she said to her detractor.
Morgane Sézalory, however, seems to admit that the money has been paid, while evading the low sum. “I was not aware of the money that was given, because again it was the production team who took care of it. I thought she would be as generous and fair as I am, as always, ”she says.
In the hours following Manuela Nadxiee’lii’s first post, Sézane canceled his photo campaign in Mexico. The fact remains that the brand, despite its “Responsible commitments” and his “Solidarity program”, scratched, with this episode, an image that it had restored since a previous scandal. In 2015, Capital magazine highlighted its use of low-cost, overexploited textile workers in Macedonia. Since then, Sézane has carried out regular audits on its production lines, according to the blog Greenly Yours.
The controversy prompted the Mexican government institute in charge of the defense and preservation of indigenous peoples to “strongly condemn the use and exploitation of the image of indigenous people by the Sézane brand”. A message seems to have passed. “We heard, understood that our approach could have offended the local Mexican community, reacts Sézane to the Parisian. And we are sincerely sorry that it did not reflect the best intentions for the local community for whom we have such deep respect. “