Philipp Plein is in hot water over his “disappointing, distasteful, and disrespectful” tribute to Kobe Bryant.
Over the weekend, the German designer debuted his Fall 2020 Ready-to-Wear collection, with celebrities such as Jada Pinkett Smith and Cameron Dallas walking the runway in his latest fashion.
The show — held as part of Milan Fashion Week — also featured a special tribute to the famed athlete, who was killed with his daughter Gianna in a January 26 helicopter crash.
Towards the end of the presentation, models walked out in bedazzled purple and gold “Plein 24” jerseys and sweatshirts, which appear to resemble Kobe’s iconic Los Angeles Lakers uniform. (During the 2006-2007 season, Bryant’s jersey number changed from 8 to 24.)
The set design also featured a number of gold Philipp Plein-branded vehicles, most notably a helicopter.
After pictures of the event went viral, social media users immediately criticized Plein for failing the recognize the “distasteful” nature of honoring Bryant alongside a helicopter.
“distasteful, tacky & material waste. philipp plein who has so long been making clothing that adds nothing but clutter to the fashion landscape has decided to include gold helicopters along his crystal basketball jerseys after the passing of kobe & gianna bryant. its disgusting,” one Twitter commenter exclaimed.
“this is disappointing, distasteful, and disrespectful .Philipp Plein making a ‘tribute’ to Kobe Bryant by featuring a gold helicopter and tastelessly placing his name all over lakers style jerseys with kobe’s number. I am actually shocked,” another wrote.
On Monday, Plein responded to the controversy, explaining that the helicopters were planned many months before Kobe’s passing.
“The catwalk set-up was already planned and designed in November 2019, way before this tragic accident occurred, this is the reason why they were gilded helicopters on the runway. I would have clearly removed them if possible, but it was too late to replace them,” he said in a statement.
He also noted that “profits from the capsule collection will be donated to Mamba & Mambacita Sport Foundation [a charity that aims to further Kobe and Gianna’s legacy]” and that “the first $20,000 have been transferred to the foundation already last Friday, the day before the show.”
“This tragedy affected myself and all the world deeply and I feel that my fashion show have been the best moment to express my respect and admiration for Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and his family,” he added.
He concluded, “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!”