The fashion industry is known for embracing controversy. But several brands have recently found themselves in a situation too controversial for comfort. True Religion and Smashbox have both pulled out as sponsors of a "Guantanamo"-themed party, to be hosted by Le Baron and Flaunt magazine at Coachella.
The party is called New Guantanamo and is being billed as a "unique and painfully pleasurable pop up experience," Refinery29 reports. The invite, featuring a photo of party-goers with machine guns, promises "pleasurable torture courtesy of Smashbox Studios" and states that both Smashbox and True Religion are sponsors.
Backlash to the event arrived quickly after the invite was released, causing Flaunt to provide an official statement within hours. A rep told New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer:
In its 15-year history, Flaunt has not shied away from controversy or provocation. We routinely cover topics of social and political contention. At our event, we intend to create an atmosphere of fun, and the spirit and theme were never intended to cause offense or harm. Guantanamo has been controversial from its inception, and that an unresolved human rights issue is again fetching headlines is, in our opinion, true to our aims as a publication. We value and respect the public's concern and are taking action.
But Fashionista reports that Smashbox and True Religion have both backed out. As a rep for the cosmetics brand said, "We were not informed of the inappropriate theme prior to the release of the invitation today. We feel strongly that even with a new event title, the feel good atmosphere of the party has been tainted."
However the party still appears to be on, lack of sponsors notwithstanding. Flaunt hasn't made any explicit mention of the controversy on its social media accounts, but we've reached out to the magazine to confirm once more.
Check out the invite below, courtesy of Refinery29. What do you make of the party's theme?
UPDATE: Flaunt has released another statement regarding the party's theme:
"Flaunt Magazine never intended to cause offense or harm with our Coachella, CA private event invite, or its verbiage. The imaging, as well as the usage of the word 'New' in front of Guantanamo, and the language in accompaniment, were in fact intended to invoke a contradictory spirit of love and carefree fun. As we have previously stated, Flaunt is a publication that routinely illumines topics of social and political contention. Guantanamo has been controversial from its inception, and that an unresolved human rights issue is again fetching headlines is, in our opinion, true to our aims as a publication and not to be interpreted in black and white terms. Still, we value and respect the concerns of the public, and have subsequently revoked the word 'Guantanamo,' and any references to it from our promotional materials. The event will certainly carry forward, and those in attendance will likely have a spirited and lovely time."
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