"This will be causing major controversy in like 5 minutes," quipped blogger TheFashionLaw on Twitter. True story: appropriated Native American headdresses are a guaranteed shitstorm factory.
Just ask Ambrosio's employer, Victoria Secret: In 2012, the lingerie brand issued an apology and pulled a look from the televised broadcast of its annual runway show, in response to the outcry over a feathered headpiece modeled by Karlie Kloss.
Karl Lagerfeld learned the lesson late last year, when he sent out a runway look inspired by a Native American bride suit for Chanel's Paris-Dallas Pre-Fall show. Chanel issued a sort-of apology ("We deeply apologize if [the look] has been misinterpreted…"), responding to the subsequent controversy.
As for the piece Ambrosio's wearing above, created by LA-based jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche, it surely won't be the only Native American-inspired accessory we'll see at Coachella this year; the headdress trend and the corresponding backlash has been in full swing for several years.
"The Hipster Headdress Abounds at Coachella," ran a headline on the website NativeAppropriations in 2010.
In 2011, a thread appeared in the Coachella Forums titled, "Hipsters In Headdresses; Don't Be That Guy."
The following year, Fashionista editor Tyler McCall included headdresses among a list of "Coachella Trends That Need To Die." "It’s just culturally insensitive," she wrote.
The subject was the topic of a Jimmy Kimmel skit in 2013, in which festival attendees were asked whether they knew the true meaning of the word, "Coachella." (Punchline: "Coachella is the American Indian word for dumb white guy.")
This year, Coachella hasn't even happened yet, but bloggers are already rolling their eyes in anticipation of the headdresses. A Lucky mag feature headlined, "How To Dress For Coachella Without Looking Like A Crazy Person," is encouraging readers to swap out Native American-inspired headpieces ("just…no") for a statement snapback hat. The headdress was also included as an item in a feature published on Complex earlier today titled, "How to Not Look Like a Douchebag at Coachella."
So, to all aspiring headdress wearers: If you're not concerned about appropriating something which is used in sacred rituals by a marginalized community for your hipster parade, consider the fact that wearing a headdress isn't just offensive to Native Americans, it also kind of makes you look like you've been living under a rock. And that applies to Alessandra Ambrosio: either she is clueless or she is courting controversy. It could go either way.