Posted on October 30, 2007

‘Racism’ Protests Over the High Street Hanging Black Mannequins

Luke Salkeld, Daily Mail (London), October 29, 2007

A chain of fashion stores has been accused of racism over a window display of black mannequins hanging from the ceiling.

Branches of All Saints are featuring headless dummies, with chains attached to the neck, dangling with their feet a few inches off the floor.

Police arrived at one branch, in Exeter, to investigate claims that the display was offensive and the Rural Racism Project says it has been “inundated” with complaints calling for it to be removed.

Spokesman John McKenzie said: “These disturbing displays are reminiscent of the Ku Klux Klan and the lynching of black people in America.

“The chains used to hang the mannequins also bring to mind slavery and some of the complainants have commented on this.

“The overall effect is extremely ominous.

“It is unacceptable and we have received many calls from both black and white people who find it offensive.

But the retailer’s attitude has been that the stores are all making a profit, therefore it cannot be offending too many people.”

A spokesman for All Saints confirmed that the display was used at 28 of its 29 stores nationwide.

She added: “The models are not black—they are grey.

“We used them because they look good in our stores, and not to represent any race.

“We are not the only store to use headless mannequins, and chains are used throughout our shops for various purposes.

They go with our rock and roll image.”

At the Exeter store, assistant manager Tiff Phillips said the public response to the display had been largely positive.

“There are no heads so there are no grimaces, and the mannequins are just hanging there.

“The police have been to see us and say we are not breaking any laws.”

The display in Exeter has already drawn criticism from the Samaritans after a complaint from a woman whose uncle hanged himself.

The unidentified woman said the “ghoulish” display brought back memories of a family tragedy.

“If you have lost a loved one to suicide by hanging, you will find this display incredibly offensive and disturbing.”

Developer Land Securities, which owns the newly-built £225million Princesshay shopping complex in the city, said that it cannot force its tenants to alter their window displays.