Relive 16 of the Biggest Fashion Week Scandals On and Off the Runway

From Cardi B and Nicki Minaj's after-party fight to Justin Timberlake being targeted as part of a prank, look back at some of the biggest Fashion Week scandals.

By Elyse Dupre, emily belfiore Sep 15, 2020 12:00 AMTags
Related: NYFW: What to Expect Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic

Fashion Week isn't always as glamorous as it seems.

From pre-show pranks and catwalk crashers to big name backlash and after-party arguments, there have been a number of major scandals both on and off the runway over the years. Who could forget when Cardi B and Nicki Minaj got into a heated fight at the 2019 Harper's Bazaar Icons Party in New York, or when Gigi Hadid stopped an intruder from interrupting the Chanel show in Paris last year?

As for this year, New York Fashion Week for the Spring-Summer 2021 season is just getting started, with shows running until Sept. 17. Granted, it's a bit different compared to years past due to the global coronavirus pandemic. While digital and in-person presentations are still being held in strict compliance with state guidelines, fashionistas won't be spotting all of the same designers, stars and parties they've seen in years past. But with the big event running for a few more days, who knows what could unfold?

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New York Fashion Week's Best Celebrity Street Style Moments

To look back at a few scandals that have taken place at both New York Fashion Week and at other Fashion Weeks around the world, check out the gallery below.

Kim Kardashian Robbed At Gunpoint

In October 2016, the Keeping Up With The Kardashians star was robbed at gunpoint inside her hotel during Paris Fashion Week. After pleading with her assailants, the men stole $10 million worth of jewelry, including the 20-carat emerald cut diamond ring that husband Kanye West had gifted her. Kim recalled the devastating moment on E! True Hollywood Story.

"That 10 minutes really changed my whole life," she explained. "You're just kind of bracing yourself for the moment that they're gonna shoot you and kill you. They tied me up. They wrapped duct tape over my eyes and my mouth." 

Gigi Hadid's Chanel Runway Crasher

Handling the situation like a pro, the 25-year-old model saved the day when a prankster jumped up onto the runway at the Chanel Paris Fashion Week show in October 2019. Doing her best to blend in with a tweed monochrome outfit, the intruder, who was later identified as YouTuber and comedian Marie Benoliel (a.k.a. Marie S'Infiltre), joined the line of models during the finale. It wasn't until she crossed paths with Gigi that she was reprimanded. The runway star blocked Marie from getting away once security was notified and escorted her off the stage. 

Model Slams "Straightjacket" in Gucci Fashion Show

At Gucci's Spring/Summer 2020 fashion show in Milan, model Ayesha Tan-Jones protested an outfit they were wearing that resembled a "straightjacket" by walking down the runway with the words "mental health is not fashion" written on their hands. 

"As an artist and model who has experienced my own struggles with mental health, as well as family members and loved ones who have been affected by depression, anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia, is hurtful and insensitive for a major fashion house such as Gucci to use this imagery as a concept for a fleeting fashion moment," Ayesha stated on Instagram in a since-deleted post. "It is in bad taste for Gucci to use the imagery of strait jackets and outfits alluding to mental patients, while being rolled out on a conveyor belt as if a piece of factory meat. Presenting these struggles as props for selling clothes in today's capitalist climate is vulgar, unimaginative and offensive to the millions of people around the world affected by these issues."

Gucci responded by stating, "Uniforms, utilitarian clothes, normative dress, including straitjackets, were included in the #GucciSS20 fashion show as the most extreme version of a uniform dictated by society and those who control it. These clothes were a statement for the fashion show and will not be sold."

Marc Jacobs Vs. Rihanna

Rumors alleged that the designer spitefully delayed the start of his Spring/Summer NYFW 2019 show to make attendees late for the Fenty mogul's Savage x Fenty lingerie show, which was slated immediately after his. Known for starting his shows right on the dot, spectators noted that this was unheard of for Marc. The reason for the alleged shade? Reports claim it was because he lost the 7:30 p.m. slot to Rihanna, which had become his coveted spot for several seasons.

Taking to Instagram, he put the rumors to rest, saying, "I sincerely apologize to anyone and everyone who was inconvenienced by my lateness at our Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show. For anyone interested, below is not a list of excuses but rather a list of facts. I fully understand people have plans, lives, commitments, flights, families to return to, etc and that I fully RESPECT."

Nicki Minaj & Cardi B's Harper's Bazaar Fight

During the 2018 Harper's Bazaar Icons Party, the two rappers were involved in a heated altercation after Nicki allegedly made a disparaging comment regarding Cardi's parenting skills. In footage from the fight, the Hustlers star could be seen lunging and shouting at Nicki. Later on, it was revealed that she even hurled her shoe at the "MEGATRON" rapper, instantly becoming one of the most meme-able moments in NYFW history. 

"It was so fast!" an eyewitness told E! News. "I heard someone screaming—everyone recognized Cardi's voice—people either got out of the way or took out their phones and started filming. Nicki was surrounded by a bunch of guards and barely even looked at her. Next thing you know, shoes were flying and Cardi was on her way out."

Jeremy Scott's Political Statement

For his 2018 NYFW show, the designer made a bold statement by wearing a white tank top that read, "Tell your senator NO on Kavanaugh," declaring himself against President Donald Trump's nomination of Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court. The controversial justice was later sworn into office in October 2018, but it marked a pivotal shift as more designers began using their runway slots to raise awareness for pertinent issues. 

Claudio Cutugno Accused of Having Models Walk in Blackface

During a 2015 fashion show in Milan, Claudio Cutugno received backlash for having models walk down the runway in a full face of black makeup. The designer issued an apology and shared his intention—claiming, in part, that the "black make up we decided to use was actually a translation" of a black veil. 

"I am extremely sorry if many people thought this make up would result offensive and also that I am racist, but that was not my intent," part of the statement read. "I am extremely respectful of the Afro-American culture and extremely sorry for each type episode of racism. Furthermore my inspiration was coming from a completely different idea which has nothing to do with the theme of Afro-American culture. I would have never thought someone could have find the makeup offensive, otherwise I would have never used it."

Justin Timberlake Pranked at Paris Fashion Week

As the *NSYNC alum made his way into the Louis Vuitton Paris Fashion Week show with wife Jessica Biel in 2019, he became the target of another Vitalii Sediuk red carpet prank.The infamous king of pranks grabbed Justin's foot and held on with a tight grip, ending up on the ground in dramatic fashion. After he caused quite the stir, security removed the celebrity prankster from the scene and Justin and Jessica continued to enter the venue. 

Thankfully, the "Man of the Woods" singer had a great sense of humor about the whole ordeal. On Instagram, he shared a picture of himself and Jessica from the event, writing, "Last night at @louisvuitton. Human anklet not included." 

Vitalii had also targeted Kim Kardashian at Balmain's Paris Fashion Week in 2014.

Burberry Slammed For Noose Hoodie

The British fashion house was under fire following a controversial design featured in its Fall 2019 collection. In it, a model donned a taupe hoodie that had a rope noose replacing its drawstrings. Following the backlash, Burberry chief executive officer Marco Gobbetti issued a statement and removed the offensive piece from the collection. "We are deeply sorry for the distress caused by one of the products that featured in our A/W 2019 runway collection," he told CNN. "Though the design was inspired by the marine theme that ran throughout the collection, it was insensitive and we made a mistake." 

Members of the fashion community were quick to call out the insensitive hoodie. Among them was model Liz Kennedy, who slammed the fashion house via Instagram. "Suicide is not fashion," she wrote, also pointing out that it evoked the "horrifying history of lynching," as well. "It is beyond me how you could let a look resembling a noose hanging from a neck out on the runway."

Everything That Happened At The Yeezy Season 4 Show

Fans were excited to witness Kanye West's Yeezy Season 4 NYFW show back in 2016, but their expectations were quickly squandered as the day unfolded. Taking place on one of the hottest days in New York, the rapper announced that the show would be happening on Roosevelt Island. Those attending the show were asked to take a shuttle bus to the show, which they were surprised to find had no air conditioning, snacks or water.

Slated to begin at 3 p.m., the show had a delayed start despite the Yeezy models being dressed and standing in position on the field. As they waited, several models began to sit down after feeling exhausted and one report claimed that one had even fainted from the heat. Unfortunately for Ye, the issues didn't stop once the show started. Several models were unable to walk in their custom Yeezy heels, which resulted in some ditching their shoes as they made their way down the runway. 

Marc Jacobs' Dreadlocks Backlash

With an A-list lineup including Kendall Jenner, Adriana Lima, Karlie Kloss, Kaia Gerber, Irina Shayk and Gigi and Bella Hadidthe designer was criticized for cultural appropriation after having the models walk the runway wearing multicolored dreadlocks. Insisting that wasn't the case and that their look was inspired by cyber goths, Marc addressed the backlash and called it "nonsense," which made critics even more outraged. 

He later addressed the matter in an interview, where he said, "What I learned from that whole thing, what caused me to pause after it died down a little bit, was that maybe I just don't have the language for this." Changing his position, he took to Instagram and apologized for "the lack of sensitivity unintentionally expressed by my brevity." 

Madonna Ditched Her Bra

Always one to put on a show, the singer made Fashion Week history when she walked the runway of Jean Paul Gaultier's amFAR fashion benefit show topless in 1992. Donning a dress that exposed her breasts and walking hand-in-hand with the French designer, Madge flashed the crowd of over 6,000 people a big smile as she made her way down the catwalk. After the show, she said, "I was supposed to wear a top and jacket like Jean Paul's, but at the last minute I decided it was better to go out topless!"

Taking place two years after the singer's cone bra corset made its debut during the Blonde Ambition Tour, the moment, as Director of The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Nathalie Bondil put it, "proclaims feminine power."

Gucci Accused Of Racism

During the Italian fashion house's 2018 Fall/Winter Show, models walked the runway wearing a turtleneck that critics said resembled blackface. Unlike traditional turtlenecks, these black sweaters were designed to be worn above the mouth and over the nose and featured a hole for the lips. Along with a red illustration of red lips, some spectators noted that the design closely mirrored the racist children's book The Story of Little Black Sambo. Gucci's CEO Marco Bizzarri addressed the backlash in a statement, saying, "We are coming from a different culture. We are Italian. We don't know all the cultural differences." 

Bstroy Anti-Gun Violence Misstep

Streetwear brand Bstroy designers Brick Owens and Duey Catorze came under fire for featuring bullet hole-ridden sweatshirts in their 2019 New York Fashion Week show in an attempt to share their stance on gun violence. To make matters worse, the garments had "Sandy Hook," "Columbine" and "Stoneman Douglas" written across them to bring awareness to America's deadliest mass school shootings. Critics found the collection to be insensitive, but the duo explained that the blunt statement was a necessity. Speaking to The New York Times, Duey said, "That's for you to know who we are, so we can have a voice in the market."

Giorgio Armani Seemingly Shades Anna Wintour

After Anna missed Giorgio's Milan Fashion Week show in 2014, the designer spoke out. And while he didn't mention the Vogue editor in chief by name, many assumed he was referring to Anna.

"There are some who prefer to snub the Giorgio Armani show and go to Paris," he said, per WWD. "She took an airplane, dumped Mr. Armani and went to Paris."

According to the outlet, he then added, "Why should I always be the moron [translating from an Italian expletive] to be penalized because of a person, who, for better or for worse, like or dislike it, is powerful? I feel penalized. She said she was sending her people. But if you go to see your dentist and he puts you in the hands of his assistant, what's your reaction? They told me ‘She went to see the Privé in Paris; she has no time to see the ready-to-wear in Milan.' She is influential and powerful. But, perhaps, I'm influential as well." 

In a statement shared with WWD, Vogue Communications Director Hildy Kuryk said "Anna has the greatest respect for Giorgio Armani and everything he has done for Italy and fashion worldwide." 

"Unfortunately, with the fashion calendar now running for more than a month, there are some shows that Anna is not able to attend," the statement continued.

RHONY Drama

Back in 2010, the ladies of The Real Housewives of New York City brought their drama to the runway during Pamella Roland's NYFW show. Former co-stars Bethenny Frankel and Luann de Lesseps got into a heated argument when The Countess seemed to take a few digs at the Skinnygirl mogul over her feud with Jill Zarin. Not holding anything back, Bethenny said, "I don't like you, and I think you're a snake," to which Luann replied, "You're nasty, and I'm not going to do this here."

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