Rose Cordero has graced the cover of Vogue Paris. This is the first time in eight years, after the Ethiopian Liya Kedebe, that a black model has appeared on the cover of the French Vogue magazine, making the March 2010 issue a sublime collector’s item. But should Black people jump for joy just yet?
Eight painfully long years have slowly crawled by since the fashion bible, Vogue magazine Paris, featured a Black person on its cover. After the deliciously pretty Ethiopian Liya Kedebe in 2002, Black people, for reasons that could not beat a daring imagination, disappeared from the magazine’s field of vision, that is, until the drop-dead-gorgeous Rose Cordero emerged on the cover of the March 2010 issue.
But despite this favour being done to Black people, one can not help but see through the French magazine’s thought process. Remorse after last year’s scandal cannot be ruled out. The magazine had painted a White supermodel to look like a Black person in the name of art!
An art reminiscent of the era of “blackface” performances by white people as a caricature of the unlettered, inferior black man. Performances that exalted and encouraged the “Jim Crow” segregation laws which sought to demean the Blackman’s place in society, thereby keeping him/her below the lowest possible echelons.
The French edition of Vogue, often accused of racism, has always defended itself as being the contrary, and the fact that Rose Cordero, the beautiful 17 year old Dominican, is “the” international Black model of the moment leaves some questions to be answered.
She was sensational during the just ended New York Fashion Week. There is no doubt that her appearance on the cover of Vogue magazine Paris will open her to the Francophone world. But delighted as I am to see more diversity on the cover of Vogue Paris, the fact remains that a loophole, albeit small, has been found: In fact, the March special edition is titled: “Coup d’éclat militaire” (A glittering putsch) ! [[<1> It may be noted that “Coup d’éclats” is a French word play. Coup d’Etat being a putsch, but here Vogue switches Etat (i.e. State) with Eclat which is french for glow, sparkle or glitter.]] Has anyone spotted a subliminal message or is it just me?
Meanwhile, seeking to reinvent itself, the Italian Vogue has launched “Black Vogue” and “Vogue Curvy”. Two mini-sites for two visible minorities, Black people on the one hand and round people on the other, who have been neglected by the mainstream fashion media, despite being huge fashion consumers.
In terms of diversity, the Italian Vogue has a history of innovation. In fact, they once devoted an entire issue to black models. If Italy is deemed racist, Italian Vogue throws a doubt on that reputation!