Vogue Italia releases their annual salute to people who aren’t white and we’re once again squirming a bit in our seats at the prospect.
Vogue Italia May 2011 Issue
Photographer: Ellen von Unwerth
Stylist: Giulio Martinelli
We have a confusing reaction to these types of editorials. On the one hand, they give the spotlight to a group the fashion industry tends to either ignore or downplay. On the other hand, the existence of these types of editorials only serve to point out how bad the fashion industry’s track record is in this matter the other 11 months out of the year.
On the other, other hand… gorgeous women of color looking gorgeous.
The bottom line is, as much as we cringe at titles like “BLACK BEAUTIES,” which objectify and dehumanize women of color, and as much as we decry the very idea of race-based issues of magazines or editorials (instead of the much better in theory, but far less likely to be equitable “color blind” standard of beauty and fashion journalism), the alternative is to not highlight or showcase these models at all. We can cringe at the concept and the title, but are the American fashion mags doing a better job when they almost never feature a woman of color on their covers and only intermittently sprinkle them throughout their editorials and ad campaigns? There’s something a little condescending about these issues and editorials but even more important, there’s always a sense of disappointment because nothing’s really going to change. We’ll see one or two women of color on fashion magazine covers in the time between this issue and next year’s “ALL BLACK” issue; just like we saw one or two women of color on the covers last year. These issues may “shine a light” on an issue, but that’s all they ever do. The status quo remains in place.
Still, the ladies are gorgeous and working the shit out of their time to shine.