French Vogue: outrage over 'blacked up' model
French Vogue, the fashion magazine, has prompted outrage by featuring pictures of a Dutch model with her pale skin painted black.
Published: 8:00AM BST 14 Oct 2009 Telegraph.co.uk/fashion
The photo shoot, which was styled by the magazine's long-time editor, Carine Roitfeld, presents pictures of model Lara Stone "blacked up" alongside normal photographs of the model.
The magazine is no stranger to controversy and has run images of supposedly pregnant models puffing cigarettes in the past.
However, bloggers and fashion commentators have suggested that this time the fashion bible has crossed the line, The Guardian reports.
The US blog Jezebel criticised the decision of Roitfeld and photographer Steven Klein to alter the model's skin colour, accusing them of cultural insensitivity.
"What Klein and Roitfeld should know is that painting white people black for the entertainment of other white people is offensive in ways that stand entirely apart from cultural context," it said. "France and Australia may not have the United States' particular history of minstrel shows but something about the act of portraying a white woman as black ought to sound an alarm, somewhere."
Dominique Sopo, president of the French organisation SOS Racisme, said that even if the shoot was not racist in intention it was certainly "tactless".
"If the aim was artistic, and not to pass off the model as a black girl, the fact that it produces such reactions shows that the world of images – advertising, fashion, whatever – is now paying for its long tradition of not allowing black people to show their bodies in public."
French Vogue said the magazine was unaware of any controversy. Neither Roitfeld nor Stone's agents at the IMG model agency in New York or Paris were available for comment.
The controversy comes after an Australian variety show host was forced to apologise for a skit in which singers parodying the Jackson Five painted their faces black. American singer and actor Harry Connick Jr, who was a guest judge on Hey Hey It's Saturday, complained about the skit.
Vanessa Williams, Miss America 1984, the black race did not want her known as the "First African American Miss America" because to them she was not black enough. I'm sure for some photoshoots there were make up artists being told not to make her too pale.
If a catwalk show is produced with all black models and not one white there's some controversy, but if anyone says anything about it, they're being racist. But if a show with all white models and not one black model, usually there's a debate. If the designer says that during casting he couldn't find one to suit their show, their clothes will be determined as only for white women.
What needs to be understood is that the magazine shoot was attempting to be artistic, otherwise they'd realise the controversy and the implications that would be set against them, and wouldn't have done it. Paris Vogue doesn't need any more publicity and can't stand to lose face, so it's definitely not a racist stunt. It would be even worse if they painted a black woman white, so why isn't that realised? What would happen if they wanted to do a clown shoot and painted Naomi Campbell's face white? There's too many people waiting for something to come up for them to complain about. It's far too delicate a subject that needs to be relaxed in order for black men, women and models to stop being singled out.