Can I just tell you how much I loved the debate on that Louis Vuitton afro post of last week?
Sometimes I do respond with an automatic side-eye where maybe I should try to be more open in my approach. I tried to tread lightly and just put the question out there to the universe, so I especially appreciate those of you who stated your dissent with diplomacy.
Fashion posts can be fascinatingly polarized. On one side are those like me, who are sometimes baffled by the fashion world’s exclusions and misappropriation of culture. Then on the other side there are the fashion apologists, who defend everything as being art and therefore completely acceptable.
One word kept coming up in the comments, and it’s a word that also came up in the news last week. Here’s a phrase I hope never to repeat:
Last week was a big one for blackface.
First, that most antique and offensive of caricatures got a big ol’ thumbs down from Harry Connick Jr. in Australia.
Now the October issue of French Vogue is continuing the trend, in a photoshoot starring Dutch model Lara Stone, photographed by Steven Klein and styled by editor Carine Roitfeld.
It’d be one thing if this “supermodel” themed issue was balanced with other models of color in their own photoshoots, or if they even — gasp — borrowed a page from an old concept on America’s Next Top Model, and switched the races of the models. I tried hard to think of what would make this less offensive to me, and I had a hard time coming up with anything…but maybe if there were a model of color styled similarly, it’d defuse my ire a little. But as it is right now, I must agree with The Fashion Bomb and Jezebel — a white model painted black is distasteful and evocative of a negative chapter in the world’s history.
Yes, it’s meant to be artistic. Perhaps it’s even meant to make some kind of deeper statement or commentary. I realize blackface has a different history outside of the US, but to me this photo shoot falls far short of its goal. It leaves me wondering — why not also use a black model in this issue?
Last week, I got quite a few comments saying “if it were blackface, I’d have a problem,” that kind of thing. So what are your views on this?