twentyteneightyfour

Is Black the new Black?

Posted in Thoughts by Nneoma Ulu on November 3, 2009

This is a picture of  Dutch model Lara Stone that appeared in a shoot styled by Carine Roitfield and shot by Steven Klein. It appeared in the October 2009 issue of Vogue Paris.

Lara Stone in Vogue Paris, October 2009

Lara Stone in Vogue Paris, October 2009

This is the October 2008 cover of Vogue Paris with Lara Stone. No prizes for spotting the difference.

Lara Stone on the cover of Vogue Paris, October 2008

Lara Stone on the cover of Vogue Paris, October 2008

This editorial appeared in Vogue Paris last month and it sent waves through the fashion world. Many people voiced their outrage that in this day and age, images like this shouldn’t and wouldn’t be accepted. My thoughts on it are pretty simple. There are many beautiful and successful black models out there from Chanel Iman to Liya Kebede, Jourdan Dunn to Naomi Campbell that could be used in an editorial shoot like this rather than ‘blackening up’ a white model. PPQ used an all black model cast to showcase their Spring/Summer 2010 collection and in my opinion, they did not get nearly enough publicity and recognition as they should have. This ‘blackface’ debate (as the American’s call it) should’ve ended here. But thanks to America’s Next Top Model and V Magazine, it seems to be back. Blackface in its simplest terms is theatrical make-up used by white people to make them look like black people. It has seriously negative connotations that goes back to 19th century America when it was used to perpetuate negative racial stereotypes. Given that it has this history it seems in bad taste that it seems to be on the rise.

Tyra Banks, the queen of addressing controversy head on, seems to have landed herself in it, when she had her wannabe models made up in ‘blackface’ for a shoot in a sugar plantation on Hawaii on a recent episode of America’s Next Top Model (in America).

'Blackface' make-up application on America's Next Top Model via The CW

'Blackface' make-up application on America's Next Top Model via The CW

V Magazine has also jumped on the bandwagon and as they say three is a trend. The editorial shot by Mario Sorrenti, sees ‘blackface’ featuring with models, Sasha Pivovarova and Heidi Mount.

V Magazine editorial shoot with Sasha Pivovarova and Heidi Mount

V Magazine editorial shoot with Sasha Pivovarova and Heidi Mount

For me, fashion needs to be cutting edge and forward thinking at the very least,, to excite and inspire people and controversy is often not far off. However, there is always a line that should not be crossed and I think that the resurgence of ‘blackface’ is that line. It does not add anything to the images, it does not tell a story that anyone wants to hear so why use it when there are countless black models waiting to be booked?

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2 Responses

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  1. Faizel said, on November 3, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Genuinely intrigued by what the justification for this is. Stuggling to understand.

    Is it meant to be irony? ‘Something different’?

  2. Kiera Noel said, on November 6, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I agree… with so many beautiful black models out there and following that incredible move by Italian Vogue to do an all black issue.. i dont get why they would use white models and do the “black face ” thing… baffles me. I am not surprised by Tyra Banks..ANTM.. she has done that in a previous cycle.. i hoped it was a one off.. guess not.


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