Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Paris Vogue suffers a lapse of Taste
What's going on in Carine Roitfeld's head? Has her mind gone the way of hem lengths for this season: short circuited? Maybe she had the idea to ape Italian Vogue's BLACK issue and decided to pay homage with a regrettable spread of her own. Maybe in her rush to shoot she forgot that the model was supposed to be black...you know like Leya Kabeede, or Chanel Iman, or Alek Wek. Maybe she just thought it would be clever and original to just go with a black faced(actually, black bodied) Lara Stone. Where does one draw the line between commerce, art and stupidity?
I bought French Vogue for a much needed change of pace from our homegrown version. I expected to find a different take on what's modern, an aesthetic shifting of gears from first to fifth. What started out as a nice revving of the engine stalled out on page LARA. What appeared at first glance to be a Moorish princess was at closer inspection a white Lara Stone spray painted to look like a Black woman. I thought it was just a momentary lapse of judgment til I turned the page and came upon a whole story of black-faced and black-bodied Lara . Iffy judgment shifted to ferociously bad taste in a Paris minute.
The associations and connotations of black-faced white people is a one way street in reverse to Minstrel entertainers, the days of Jim Crow laws and segregation. It it is not stylish, amusing or creative. Vogue has started a very unpleasant and offensive habit, thanks to Ms. Sozzani and Steven Meisel at Italian Vogue, of celebrating Tokenism and all of it's odious and depressing implications. What irks me the most is I fear they aren't even remotely aware of the offense most women of color will take when they look at these pages.
The first of the "Black Issues" that came out last year was annoying enough. One whole issue dedicated to black models was a sad statement when the rest of the year precious few , if any, were used in the editorial pages. This summer it was down-sized to a spread and not the full issue. They dragged it down to a new low by using Barbie dolls (white featured ones spray-painted brown) instead of Black models. Maybe the only models available were all booked and the shoot had to go on. I think the agency who handled Barbie cut a better deal and the magazine went with a cheaper price.....It's just a matter of economizing in these difficult times. Now French Vogue and it's thoughtless editor along with Steven Klein, who should stick to shooting horses and hosting Madonna, have gone a step further. Fashion seems to be saying that it can no longer afford or be bothered with a social conscience.
I don't want to waste another moment on this issue . It gives it legs and in a backhanded way supports this idiotic myopia that is running helter skelter through the halls of Conde Nast's farther flung offices.
I have done the only responsible thing and lined my litter box with this issue. It's a dirty job but I'm not about to waste perfectly good reads like Horse and Hound or Ebony.