Ban Ki-moon covers Vogue
Yes, you read right. Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary General of the UN, is gracing the cover of L’Uomo Vogue‘s May issue. The issue is dedicated to “Re-branding Africa” and editor Franca Sozzani believes that cover star Ban Ki-moon is the ideal person to get the fashion world to take notice of the continent’s promising future. She is no stranger to a bit of thought-provoking controversy in the fashion world following her all black issue of Vogue Italia in July 2008 issue.
Franca Sozzani is giving the world a different view of Africa. This is not about starving children and poverty-stricken families – this is about prosperity and hope. As Ban Ki-moon puts it, “Africa does not need charity. Africa needs investment and partnership. Joining forces with civil society and private sector, including non-traditional players, like the fashion industry, has become indispensable.” So Franca is using her recent appointment as the first Goodwill ambassador for Fashion 4 Development, an NGO supported by UNESCO, aiming to create sustainable fashion businesses in countries like Bangladesh and Nigeria to start a conversation. A conversation that is not rooted in the negative connotations that come so easily when thinking about Africa but one that showcases the creativity and originality coming out of Africa. Sure, there will be backlash saying that using local African personalities – actors, musicians, actors, stylists, writers – undermines the issues that the continent faces but maybe fashion can succeed where music has tried and failed? Whatever the outcome, at least the fashion world is taking note of the opportunity that Africa presents.