Prada has suspended its worldwide campaign featuring blackface imagery after an onslaught of criticism.
SOHO, Manhattan — When Prada's SoHo location opened for business Friday, a display that critics said depicted blackface had been completely removed and swapped out with another.
Chinyere Ezie, a civil rights lawyer, is credited with first bringing the display at Broadway and Prince Street to light through posts on social media.
“This isn’t acceptable, it’s not ambiguous — it’s black and white and there’s no excuses for racist imagery in 2018,” Ezie said.
Despite removal of the display, Ezrie tells PIX11 the damage has already been done.
“I feel like if nothing else, this is a sign about how we need more diversity in board rooms,” she said. “If you had a black friend, if you have an American friend even, they would’ve been able to catch this and nip this in the bud.”
Ezie's sentiment was echoed by another passerby in front of the Prada store.
“It’s just amazingly stupid at this point that this company — huge international company — could make such a dumb decision like this,” said Gwen Todd, who came to check out the display after first seeing it on Facebook.
The NYC Commission on Human Rights announced Friday an official investigation will be launched into Prada.
“In a time when reports of anti-Black discrimination and racism are increasing, it is appalling to see this kind of blatantly racists displays and merchandise from Prada,” said Assistant Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights Sapna V. Raj.
The display was part of the company's "Pradamalia" theme.
"Pradamalia" includes seven "mysterious tiny creatures that are one part biological, one part technological, all parts Prada," the Prada website states.
The character seen in the SoHo storefront is also on Prada's website, and on Prada merchandise for sale.
Prada tweeted on Friday that it is removing "the characters in question from display and circulation," and said the brand never intended to cause offense.