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Fashion at the Olympics

Vancouver Olympics Figure S
Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin at the European Figure Skating Championships on Jan. 21. AP Photo / Ivan Sekretarev.

There was some talk around the office this afternoon about the writing of Washington Post fashion and culture critic Robin Givhan. I've been a fan of Givhan since I read her breathtaking, uncommonly eloquent review of a Kara Walker show at the Whitney Museum in 2007. 

Thus reminded of Givhan's work, I searched on the Wasington Post's Web site and ran across this gem from Jan. 31, a rumination on the fashions we've been seeing at the winter Olympics in Vancouver. In it, she deconstructs the costumes of Russian ice dancers Oksana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin, who have come under fire from members of the very group of aboriginal Australians whose culture they were trying to appropriate. Givhan writes:

Serious folks who represent the aboriginal culture have announced to the media that they are offended. As well they should be, if for no other reason than the costumes are hideous. But the bigger issue is whether the idea itself is offensive. Should Russian skaters be using Australian aboriginal culture at all? Is any sort of appropriation inherently mocking?

Food for thought from a fascinating writer.

--Colin Dabkowski

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