Zara campaign sparks backlash after resemblance to Gaza destruction

Images feature model Kristen McMenamy standing amid rubble, limbless statues and mannequins wrapped in white cloth and plastic

Some images in Zara's latest campaign have been deleted after fans criticised them for mirroring scenes of destruction in Gaza. Photo: Zara
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Zara is facing a backlash after using statues with missing limbs surrounded by rubble in an advertising campaign.

Images published by the Spanish retailer have been compared to the destruction in Gaza. In the photographs, model Kristen McMenamy also poses with mannequins wrapped in white cloth and plastic.

Zara has since issued a statement regarding the campaign.

The campaign, named The Jacket, is part of the brand's Atelier series, which it describes as "a limited-edition collection from the house celebrating our commitment to craftsmanship and passion for artistic expression".

Commenting on Zara's post about the campaign, Melanie Elturk, chief executive of fashion brand Haute Hijab, said: "This is sick. What kind of sick, twisted and sadistic images am I looking at?"

Palestinian artist Hazem Harb also commented on the campaign and called for a boycott of the brand.

"Using death and destruction as a backdrop for fashion is beyond sinister, it's complicity and should outrage us as consumers. Boycott Zara," Harb wrote on Instagram.

Harb also shared footage of his 2008 video installation Burned Bodies, which was shown at the Citta dell'Altra Economia, Rome, and bears a resemblance to the Zara campaign.

Instagram influencers Dr Noor Amra and Dr Hina Cheema, who run the @eyegirlmd and @storyofstyle accounts, shared images of the Zara campaign in a joint post.

"We have all seen the devastating images of shrouded bodies coming out of Gaza ... It’s clearly a deliberate mock to Palestinians. They know exactly what they are doing," they wrote on Instagram.

Responding to their post, Mona Kattan, global president of Huda Beauty, wrote: "Sick."

Photographed by Tim Walker with art direction by French-American company Baron & Baron, the images feature American model McMenamy wearing a series of jackets in a stark white room, surrounded by wooden crates and concrete rubble.

Statues are missing limbs, while mannequins and structures have been wrapped in white cloth, as well as clear and white plastic. One image, which appears to have been deleted from the campaign on the Zara website and social media, depicts McMenamy wearing a studded leather jacket, with a mannequin hovering behind her wrapped in plastic.

From the series of images featuring the studded jacket, the only photograph that remains online is a close-up of the garment.

Zara has not responded to the backlash. The National has contacted the company for a comment.

In October, Israeli Arabs called for a boycott of Zara after its franchise owner hosted far-right political figure Itamar Ben Gvir for an election campaign event in Raanana, according to a report by Israeli news channel N12.

Videos posted on social media showed people burning clothing sold by the fashion chain after the gathering hosted by Joey Schwebel, chairman of Trimera Brands, the Israeli franchise holder for Zara.

Zara was founded in Spain in 1975. The chain has more than 2,000 stores in more than 90 countries, with multiple outlets in the UAE, including in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Ras Al Khaimah.

Updated: December 12, 2023, 1:01 PM