Kylie Jenner’s Lion Dress Didn’t Kill Mufasa but Might as Well Have

Kylie Jenner might not have put on a safari outfit, jumped in a jeep, and gunned down a lion to make her latest viral dress, but the Internet is nonetheless out for blood.

On Monday, Jenner walked Schiaparelli’s runway in Paris, swathed in what can only be described as a fashion conscious taxidermist’s fever dream. It was a beautifully cut velvet strapless gown, ruched to high heaven. And there, jutting off her right boob, was a big ol’ Mufasa head whose eyes were almost as dead as those of its model.

In a write-up of Schiaparelli’s stunning take on Percival C. McLeach chic, CNN notes that in Monday’s show notes, creative director Daniel Roseberry attributed the collection’s artistic inspiration to Dante’s “Inferno” and the nine circles of hell. The collection includes faux taxidermied corpses of a lion (representing pride), a leopard (lust, as worn by Canadian model Shalom Harlow), and a she-wolf (avarice, as worn by Naomi Campbell).

The Internet, meanwhile, is waiting on a proper poetic avatar for its distaste—although so far, tweeting seems to be working just fine for many detractors.

It’s not that anyone thinks these dead animal heads are real. (To reiterate, they were fashioned out of foam resin and other manmade materials; PETA, for its part, has voiced its approval.) But still, both in concept and execution, it’s hard to understand how these garments are meant to inspire. The dress on Jenner is stunning but ordinary, at least once you remove the garish fake lion trophy, and the fur coat on Campbell hangs like a boxy nightmare even before you notice the “she wolf” that’s sprouting out of her shoulder.

Many on social media have pointed out that these looks seem to reinforce or glamorize the aesthetics of trophy hunting, even if all of the materials used were man made. This is an important or valid point, but the real problem is that they are also ugly.

More than ethically questionable, the lion is tacky. The outfit looks as if someone put an eight-year-old on Project Runway with nothing but a hot glue gun and a few stuffed toys from FAO Schwartz. By using a lion specifically, Schiaparelli invokes the memory of Cecil the Lion—a lion who’d been tracked as part of a long-term study before an American big-game trophy hunter killed him. It’s unclear, however, what meaning the fashion brand is trying to convey beyond shock factor. The lions deserve better, as do we, the clothes-wearing public—even if these are the kinds of clothes that are not exactly made to be bought at a Marshalls near you.

Schiaparelli’s apparent explanation, via CNN, provokes more questions than it answers: “Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso: One cannot exist without the other,” Roseberry writes. “It is a reminder there is no such thing as heaven without hell; there is no joy without sorrow; there is no ecstasy of creation without the torture of doubt.”

Indeed—and also, I might just add: There is no publicity without a provocative scene.

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