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The Voice of the Black Community

Arts and Entertainment

Vogue uses blackface in fashion tribute
Vogue Netherlands used white models to pay tribute to black fashion icons
 
Published Thursday, May 2, 2013
by Krishana Davis

The fashion community is in an uproar over an attempt by Vogue Netherlands to pay homage to black icons in a feature with a white model in Blackface in its May 2013 issue.

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Blackface has been a recurring issue in many European fashion publications. Vogue Netherlands came under fire for using white models in Blackface to pay tribute to Black fashion ico

The editorial “Heritage Heroes” showcases white, blond model Querelle Jansen as American-born French singer and dancer Josephine Baker and Jamaican singer and model Grace Jones. Jansen is pictured in the spread with blackface and a funky, black Afro wig in one photo and a cone-shaped high-top hairstyle in the other.

The feature was designed to underscore the contributions of Baker and Jones to the fashion world.

Fashionita.com, a leading fashion blog, said, “A couple of alternative ideas: use a model who already looks something like Grace Jones or Josephine Baker without face paint. Or just, you know, don’t paint a white person’s face black ever? [sic] Why is this even something we have to keep pointing out? European editors and stylists especially, it seems, are really not getting it.”

Blackface is not uncommon in the Netherlands, even in 2013. During the winter holiday a black slave, or helper named Zwarte Piet accompanies Sinterklaas (Santa Claus) on the delivery of treats and presents to children. Today, white people often dress in blackface to pose as Zwarte Piet during holiday celebrations.

Blackface has been a recurring issue in many European fashion publications.

“Numéro” magazine was recently under fire for its March 2013 issue, placing model Ondria Hardin, 16, in an editorial “African Queen.” Her skin is painted black. The editorial was shot by photographer Sebastian Kim. In 2010, Numéro published a similar editorial with model Constance Jablonski in black and blond Afro wigs alongside a black toddler.

In 2009, Vogue Paris published an editorial with model Lara Stone dressed in black paint from head to toe. The 14-page spread was styled by then-editor Carine Roitfeld, who left Conde Nast to launch her own publication, CR Fashion Book, which is now in its second year.

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