Franca Sozzani, editor for Vogue Italia, continues to prove herself as a bastion of resistance to the racist image that Vogue has carved for itself within the Afro world as she revisits her brave and historical “Black Issue” of 2008. In its February 2011 issue, Vogue Italia makes a comeback into the Afro world with Black Allure: An editorial photography spread on several pages depicting a selection of some of the top commercial Black models in the fashion industry, like delicious butter and marmalade on hot toasts! February is Black History Month and Vogue Italia’s photographic message is a tip of the heart to Black people.
Franca Sozzani and Vogue Italia continue to celebrate diversity in fashion and also prove that Black models are from being the bane of fashion magazines, as was evidenced by the magazine’s legendary 100% Black Issue of 2008, which featured only Black models and celebrities. That edition of Vogue Italia became a number one selling magazine, and for the first time in the history of Vogue demand exceeded supply. For the very first very first time an edition was reprinted! And for a very Black reason.
Their latest edition, rightly entitled Black Allure, features the current top twelve Black models. Anne Summerton’s photographs highlight the history of fashion, with models like Ajak Deng, Arlene Peña Sosa, Chanel Iman, Georgie Baddiel, Jourdan Dunn, Joan Smalls, Kine Diouf, Lais Ribeiro, Melodie Monrose, Mia Aminata Niaria, Rose Cordero and Sessilee Lopez giving essence to the one million and one shades of chocolate and caramel that represent the Black skin.
Last November, American Vogue had tried its hands on a similar project entitled “Asia Major”. Asia Major featured some of the top selling Asian models. Unfortunately, most critics saw this as an attempt by American Vogue to appeal to the only international luxury market that had been relatively spared by the economic and financial crises, rather than an attempt by the magazine to diversify its traditional choice of models.
Indeed, many individuals believe that there is no racism or discrimination in the fashion industry and instead seek the politically correct explanation for the frightful lack of Black representation. On this seemingly delicate subject, Franca Sozzani Editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, writes on her blog:
“No, there is no problem of racism or discrimination in the fashion industry as it is in many other domains … In this Obama era there are Black celebrities and leaders in several fields, including arts, sports and culture, and fashion is no exception.” She later cites Iman, Naomi Campbell, Liya Kedebe, Alec Wek … as evidence of this success. In her opinion, instead of evoking discrimination in the fashion industry, one should rather talk about the ambient laziness that is preventing the industry from finding new talent! “Vogue Italia recognizes the merit of working with Black models, we will continue to give them more space in our magazine and our website. The truth is that true beauty does not care about skin color or nationality. ”
In an ideal world this would be true, but in the meantime, we hope that that time when the media and fashion world will highlight the world’s real diversity will soon come. And as money has no color, we also hope that the media including fashion magazines become more representative of the diversity of our world today. We hope that one day, soon, we do not wake up to find a special Black or Asian edition as big media events, but instead celebrate on daily basis our beautifully diverse world in our magazines. And as we wait for the fulfillment of this Martin Luther-like dream, here are some of the sumptuous pictures from the Black Allure photoshoot. Enjoy!
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