Race is a hot topic of conversation in the fashion industry, but somehow any progress that seems to be made on the issue is of the "two steps forward, one step back" variety. The latest is another instance of blackface, as seen in Vogue Netherlands' May 2013 "Heritage Heroes" editorial. (Thanks to our pals at Fashionista for pointing it out!)
The idea behind "Heritage Heroes" was to show a collection (in the case of these inflammatory images, Louis Vuitton) in an environment that mimics its inspiration. Marc Jacobs worked with "tribal influences" when designing the clothing in question, and Vogue Netherlands seems to have found it fitting to paint their model's face black and photograph her in a dark, kinky wig.
Can someone please explain to me the Europeans obsession with blackface? This time the offender is Vogue Netherlands twitter.com/bonaelamour/st…
— Damian Bao (@bonaelamour) April 16, 2013
With a serious dearth of color in the industry, it's remarkable that Vogue Netherlands didn't take this opportunity to showcase a dark-skinned model instead of spending all that time on the provoking makeup. Chanel Iman has pointed out a stunning resistance to diversity in the fashion world despite the fact that there's no shortage of talented models, as has Jourdan Dunn. And yet instances of blackface as well as "whitewashing" appear to persist.
This is just one of several attempts to portray African culture that fashion mags have bungled: Numero whipped up a controversial blackface shoot this past February and French Vogue shot a similarly-styled editorial back in 2009.
Check out the full editorial -- which lays out the controversy in black and white -- over at The Fashion Spot. What do you think of such "blackface" editorials?
More magazines that got themselves in trouble: