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French Vogue Falls Flat

Unless you have been under a rock this week, or have no interest whatsoever in the world of fashion and beauty, then you have heard the uproar surrounding the 14-page spread in French Vogue that features a model, Laura Stone, in Blackface. The spread has been described as tasteless, shameful, racist, and inspired one of the best articles that I have read in regards to women of color, the body and postracialism.

Blackface and what it represents is no laughing matter to me in any medium, form or fashion, so when I took the time to review all the images, surprisingly—I wasn’t offended.

As a working creative director of color, to me it was more of an example of lazy creativity than something that is extremely offensive, which is just sad and a waste of talent. To be fair, Laura was painted black and white in the spread…two colors that can speak volumes about society, but they didn’t have to stop there. Perhaps using a black model to add to the sub-cultural dialogue of the spread, painting her different colors, and honestly—better styling. Of course someone on set knew that painting a white model black would have repercussions, and in their eyes result in more press. The chance to produce a story of fashion and using the models as palettes of transformation (my theory) was right there. If anything this spread just exposes this culture of laziness that has infiltrated fashion as of late and in turn, the uproar it causes. Give me something Steven Klein…I remember Italian Vogue (he did it before), but I expect better from you as of late.

So while i’m not “oh no they didn’t” raving mad about it, I can see the reason for the uproar, but I ask that we not just get mad, but do something as a result. As I continue to produce more photo-shoots for Parlour and my own clients, I feel that this spread is a catalyst for creatives to continue to push more culturally-relevant boundaries, and work for the inclusion of more minorities behind and in-front of the lens. This is a direct way to produce more thought-provoking, yet beautiful images that connect more with this new global community that we are slowly turning into. Anyone can paint a woman black or white, but without true creativity, innovative approaches and relevance it just falls flat.

Le sigh.

Check out all of the images over at Jezzie’s place.

Last 5 posts by Shannon Washington

  • Ari

    Can this really be considered “Black Face”? She looks good! Now, if she literally had black pain on her face and body that would be different. She has on brown.

  • valid point Ari! However it’s more of a “darkening” issue that alludes to blackface. but it’s worth examining if she was say… eggplant purple, if we would be up in arms.

  • Fa

    I completely agree