Black is really “the new BLACK”…but we already knew that. I guess Vogue magazine knows too.
Allegations of racism and discrimination in the fickle fashion world have surfaced after Franca Sozzani, editor of the global style bible Vogue Italia, confirmed rumours that July’s issue would be back-to-back black.
Using only black models, next month’s issue will run articles tailored for black women interested in the arts and entertainment.
American Vogue is following a similar path, using its July issue to ask why it is that there is a dearth of black models on catwalks and in magazines.
It’s nothing new. Like the fashion styles spruiked in magazines and on catwalks, the race debate is cyclical.
The first time a black model sashayed down the catwalk was in 1964, put there by designer Paco Rabanne. It was scandalous. Rabanne reported afterwards that American fashion journalists went backstage and almost spat in his face. “They said haute couture is reserved for white women and not those girls over there,” he said.
More than four decades later, the flamboyant designer Vivienne Westwood cried whitewash after a magazine editor refused to use a black model on the cover because “sales would halve”. Westwood, fuming, demanded a quota system to force magazines to feature more black and Asian models. If America can consider a black president, could the fashion world be about to finally get black beauty? Unlikely, according to The New York Times’ Cathy Horyn, who argues racism in fashion exists because tokenism persists.
The famed Los Angeles-based photographer Steven Meisel, who shot the images for Vogue Italia’s 170-page July issue, agrees black models are conspicuous by their presence. Best known as the man behind the camera for Madonna’s 1992 book, Sex, Meisel is a long-time critic of the fashion industry’s narrow view of the world, going as far as to label it discriminatory. [full article – theage.com]