Vogue Italia recently released their third issue featuring African American models only.
“Oh how progressive of them, Black models are finally getting their shine!”
Everyone should be happy, right?
In 2008, the first time this was done, it was widely celebrated and received a tremendous amount of praise from across the globe. It hit stands in the midst of a period where African American models were being noticeably snubbed in the high fashion industry and disapproving protests were finally being acknowledged—at least for a brief moment.
The all black issue was a symbol of hope to the African American community. It was thought to be the beginning of a new era. Models of different backgrounds and racial makeup were appearing in fashion shows, on our television screens, and on billboards way more than before. Recognition that was long overdue was finally being paid.
Everything was how it was supposed to be (but not for long).
Just this past fashion week season, for Chanel’s 2012 Cruise Collection, not a single black model was cast. (Nor were any cast for Karl Lagerfeld’s resort show last year, the fall 2011 show, the spring 2011 couture show, or the pre-fall 2011 show.)
Evidently, there is still a lot left to be done.
While the good intent can be appreciated, it’s hard to be excited anymore. This all black issue has become their version of Black History Month. Placing African Americans all in one issue makes it that much easier for us to be ignored and looked over. If these spreads are supposed to appease us and keep us satisfied, it’s not working anymore.
There shouldn’t be just one annual celebrated issue, but several repeated, inclusive, and diverse issues. Although Vogue Italia gets an A for effort, them and other fashion magazines and fashion designers alike should work harder to incorporate a fair amount of models of various ethnicities into each and every one of their spreads, shows, and advertisements. The fashion industry needs to grasp and accept that we are not a trend. We are here to stay and they should act accordingly.