Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Italian Vogue - The Black Issue

So, the July issue of Italian Vogue has chosen this month to feature ONLY black models in its features...and it's not even February.

I've got to admit, I was excited a few months ago when I heard that this issue was going to happen. I was looking forward to seeing pretty brown faces that I hadn't seen before. And while I love the idea of bringing these models to the forefront, I've been wondering if the editors have missed the point.

The editor mentioned in this article that she was unafraid of being 'unconventional' and provocative. The whole point of hiring more black models is to make them more mainstream, more commonplace. The point is NOT to feature a black girl in some animal print, so that you, the photographer/editor can be seen as a rebel.

I'll still be purchasing the magazine because if we don't support it, the takeaway message will be, 'See, we gave you people a whole issue and it just sat on the stands. This is why we don't hire black models!' But, I can't get away from feeling like I'm also in effect praising these racist fashion editors for doing something they should be doing without expecting a pat on the back.

Is this really different than us picketing to eat at the whites only lunch counter?


ETA: Interview with Bethann regarding the issue here.


M.Dot. said...

Say word. The Black Issue. Did I tell you I am starting a Fashion Blog. Well, well, well, I am.
Me thinks I will review this BLACK vogue...

Penni Brown said...

I'll be over there to see what you have to say about it. And why has the most posted pic of Tocarra been the one where she's holding her melons?? The other pics of her are waaay more fierce.

the prisoner's wife said...

she did look hella fierce.

the breast shots probably got the most shine for all the same reasons naked black women get shine: people like to see us in 1-dimensional lights.

brava for Italian Vogue...but my question is, years after Iman & Bevery Johnson, why are black models still looked at as "exotic" and "provocative"?

Penni Brown said...

TPW - I agree, we're never the 'girl next door'. Until these designers have black friends, not muses, we'll always be seen as 'other' or an alternative to 'normal'.