Wednesday, April 22, 2009
The Blackening of the Fashion Industry
So I hear American Vogue has had three Black women on their cover this year. One was Michelle Obama, one was Beyonce and the other was an actual model, Liya Kebede. Well....big whoop. Liya shared the cover with a bunch of white models (Jourdan Dunn is in the foldout), one's the biggest singer in the business and the other is our FLOTUS. So I'm not exactly breaking out the Dom now that Anna Wintour decided to jump on the bandwagon after Vogue Italia had their infamous all-Black issue which made her look bad. The added irony showed that while the editorial spreads may have featured Black models the ad space sold to financially support the issue was 99.9% devoid of one.Black.model.
I still remember Wintour's rather apologetic Letter From the Editor way back in 1997 which seemed like the last time they featured a Black model on the cover with Kiara Kabukuru. It was the July issue, the leanest of all months to boot. Ms. Wintour was asking people to "forgive" her for daring to put a Black model of the cover - AS IF SHE DOESN'T HAVE THE POWER TO MAKE THAT DECISION. I remember I felt compelled to write her a response with some variation of kiss my *ss because I didn't need her to validate me.
I used to subscribe faithfully but I had to rethink my support of magazines that weren't catering to me specifically. On the other hand Essence was way too old fogey for me and I really wanted something young and hip. By the way if I haven't made it clear I do actually like fashion. I was so happy when MODE and HONEY magazines were being published and equally crushed when they folded.
By the way these fashion magazines had a continual snowflake fest of all white models for years after the decline of the Supermodel phase. I think it started with the grunge look and it stuck. Of course if you've heard about certain American designers whining about how Shelly O won't wear their clothes then you may also have heard their blatant discrimination with their use of to Jim Crow-era "No Blacks Need Apply" stance. So just like so many newspapers that are in financial ruins I have zero sympathy. They've been guilty of hiring discrimination for years and karma is a *itch isn't it?! Is it also too much to ask that they show some models of various sizes and not all skull and crossbones?
Now all the Black people that fell for the okey doke of chasing after hip-hop era bling had better take a second look at their designer purchases from companies that don't want to be associated with them, let alone employ them and stop throwing away good money after bad practices. It's just hilarious to me that Michelle doesn't have to make any statements or say one word. We know what's up. they know what's up. Bethann Hardison has been fighting the industry for years for inclusion. I appreciate her efforts but inclusion is not equality. I also can't help but notice how the Black Upper Crust has not done one thing to address this and they are the ones with the money and clout to pus against it, right?
Having a Black First Lady has leveled the playing field. I've noticed the trickle down of hiring more Black models in catalogs like Spiegel but there's quite a ways to go. In the meantime I'm cracking up. Some of these designers just don't know what to do. It's really quite simple but they'd rather play dumb. I hope they grab some cheese with their whine, get a clue and remedy the situation.
Here's Oscar de la Renta eating crow and backpedaling from his criticism of Michelle Obama. In case he hasn't figured it out she'd be criticized for wearing one of his 300K outfits in this economy. Nor is she required to please the fashionista crowd. So she was going to get flack no matter what she did.