Monday, July 21, 2008

Italian Vogue's 1st All Black Issue Defies Mainstream Fashion Media Assumptions

My last blog about the fashion industry and race here on culturegeist was on June 24, 2008 after the media was swirling with reports about Naomi Campbell's latest meltdown in Heathrow Airport over her baggage not being put aboard her flight. I wondered how such behavior impacts other younger black models in the industry.

I HAD to comment on reports about Italian Vogue's recent all black issue, that's right! You heard it correctly! Oh, in case you're wondering that's 17 year-old British modeling sensation Jourdan Dunn, pictured left, gracing THE cover of the moment.

It was photographer Annie Leibovitz's April, 2008 Vogue cover that prompted me to start blogging about fashion and race in the first place - her cover photo of Cleveland Cavaliers guard Lebron James dribbling a basketball and cradling model Giselle Bundchen was so flagrantly filled with negative racial overtones I began to seriously wonder about little Annie's childhood.

A MAINSTREAM FASHION magazine filled with with nothing but black models? But how can that be? Fashionistas and media pundits have been mumbling on about how fashion magazines with black models on the cover "just don't sell" for years.

As a writer my career interests have expanded beyond just the publishing industry but I still read my trusty Ed2010 - that's where I saw the citation of Mediabistro's Vogue mention earlier at work, I was too busy to fire off a blog.

The coolest part is that it reportedly sold out on the news stands everywhere; you can't get your hands on a copy. In this era of flat print magazine ad sales, Vogue had to do a reprint!

Of the possible backlash, Italian Vogue editrix Franca Sozzani said:

"Maybe in our country it's not the best idea, but I don't care. I think if they don't like it it's not my problem it's their problem." You go Franca!

Perhaps the editors at Italian Vogue decided to show that Annie Leibovitz's cover doesn't accurately define the totality of Vogue's editorial and ad content. Perhaps there are those who dislike the assumptions about black models perpetuated by the fashion industry and their advertisers.

Maybe it's like a football game where a ref doesn't catch someone holding you on one play, but he gives you a make up for it later in the game without saying anything.

Well partial make up anyway, none of the ads in the issue featured models of color - but I guess it's a start. And that can be a very important step.

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