Tuesday, October 13, 2009

FSB Want To Know: Your Thoughts On The French Vogue Blackface Issue?

This morning, the writers at New York Magazine's The Cut happened upon a new issue via the fabulous ladies of Jezebel: it appears that French Vogue has decided to feature Dutch model Lara Stone in blackface as part of their supermodel issue. Here is an excerpt:

"French Vogue has a reputation for controversy, and this month's issue is no exception. Steven Klein shot Dutch supermodel Lara Stone in blackface makeup for a spread styled by French Vogue editor Carine Roitfeld.... The roster — including Kate Moss, Kristen McMenamy, Yasmin Le Bon, Eva Herzigova, Claudia Schiffer, Anna Selezneva, Diane Kruger, Constance Jabloski, and Eniko Mihalik — is entirely white. No black or Asian models made the cut. But they hired Lara — and her curves — in the spirit of inclusiveness, right?"

Ok, let's break this down to its basic facts. French Vogue is a fashion magazine, fashion magazines use models and, last I checked, we have plenty of amazing, gorgeous, authentically black models out here. I mean, I don't know about you but if I'm going to include Kate Moss, Eva Herzigova and Claudia Schiffer in a "Model" issue, I would include their 80's supermodel peer, NAOMI CAMPBELL, who happens to be, you know, black. God, even if Naomi wasn't available, we have other black major models they could have utilized: Alek Wek, Veronica Webb, Tyra Banks, Iman, Chanel Iman, Liya Kedebe...? Look, I get that this is artistic expression but if we're truly trying to make the artistic statement that she's a blank canvas, could we have hired a black model and painted her white as well? Just saying...

Also, no Asian models? Again, if we're talking about the supermodel era, Jenny Shimuzu was groundbreaking and Devon Aoki also cannot be ignored. If the point of art is to provoke, then they've definitely created a provocative photo spread but at what cost? If we look to fashion to dream, what does painting a model in blackface say to women of color who aspire to wear the clothes, either on the runway or real life?

I'm DYING to hear your comments on this one. Is this perfectly acceptable or in very poor taste? Leave me your comments below and let's chat.


Kristin Booker said...

This was posted on Facebook by Carolyn:

I read this comment on Jezebel that I thought brought up some interesting points.

"French Vogue also recently did a shoot in which a female model dressed up as a boy. It didn't offend anyone, as far as I know.

I don't mean for a second that the two are analogous. But surely we do eventually hope to get to a point where, just as a photographer might put a blond wig on a brunette model, or dress a boy as a girl, or vice versa, or whatever - we can see skin colour just as another difference to play with in the way we play with others? That would be the ideal of a post-racial world... but I'm not sure that we're anything like being there yet, and so I'm decidedly unsure what I make of this shoot."... Read More

HOWEVER, given the historical context of using blackface , and how insulting it is to black people, I would say that painting one person another race is a racially offensive action- regardless of whether or not it's done in the name of art. I'm not saying it's wrong or right- just that I understand why there would many people would be offended by such an action.

Mama Fashionista said...

This whole thing is offensive. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it, but I can assure you, I will not be interested in contributing a dime to those editorially involved with the shoot (particularly the editor and photographer and model). Yes, we should all have room to express ourselves artistically, but not at the expense of an entire segment of the world's population. It shows a complete an utter lack of imagination and an almost pathologically desperate ploy for publicity. For shame French Vogue, for shame...


Zoe said...

I know they're going to pass this off as some form of art. But hello, there are more than enough gorgeous black supermodels out there - they should have just hired one!

Kristin Booker said...

Well said, all of you! Thanks for commenting!

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