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Model Naomi Campbell

‘Italian Vogue’ Seeks to Outmode Racism

June 30, 2008 09:01 AM
by Anne Szustek
In protest of an attitude within the fashion industry that “black models don’t sell,” the July issue of the magazine seeks to make models of color a long-lasting trend.

30-Second Summary

The issue, which hit European newsstands on Thursday and is due stateside the first week of July, features more than 100 pages of spreads celebrating pioneers among models of color, such as Iman, as well as newcomers including America’s Next Top Model contestant Toccara Jones.

Italian Vogue editor-in-chief Franca Sozza told Britain’s The Daily Telegraph that she was inspired by Ill. Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential bid. “In the spirit of ‘change’ I’m guessing editor Franca Sozzani and photographer Steven Meisel, were ready to go out on a limb,” wrote the I Love Style blog.

Meisel, who did the shoots for the issue, was quoted as saying, “It’s ridiculous, this discrimination…Age, weight, sexuality, race—every kind of prejudice.”

The issue has already made some inroads on the catwalks—or so says blog Fashionista. Milan’s Dsquared² used mostly black men for its show earlier this week. Rumor has it that Lanvin will follow suit.

But some are unconvinced as to whether Vogue makes a clear statement against racism—or if it is just window dressing.

New York Magazine’s The Cut blog points out that the while newly minted Dominican model Arlenis Sosa “rocks the hell out of a floor-length Donna Karan,” unlike her statuesque frame, her English falls short. “If the piece is really supposed to make a case for the great black girls the public is missing out on, at least let us hear what she has to say.”

Jezebel questions American Vogue’s commitment to diversity: “The May 2007 issue had Chanel Iman on the cover … but far to the right and therefore under the fold, where Condé Nast—or is it Annie Leibovitz? —seems to think black people belong.”

Headline Link: ‘Italian Vogue Shows Black Models Only’

Opinion & Analysis: A change in runway trends

Reference: FindingDulcinea’s Web Guide to Fashion, Milan Fashion Week

Related Topics: The fight against super-skinny models


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