What, exactly, does the #BlackLivesMatter movement have to do with fashion? Plenty, according to this fashion shoot by artist Kehinde Wiley in the latest issue of Paper. The shoot, entitled "Black Light," was styled by Shiona Turini, an alum of Cosmopolitan, CR Fashion Book, and W. Wiley wrote in Paper about the project: "Black lives matter because it's a prescient thing to highlight in this moment of cultural evolution. But black lives have mattered for thousands of years. My interest is in the now — what does it feel like to be black in 2015?"
Turini's styling included pieces by the likes of Balmain, Yeezy Season 1, Hood By Air, Harbison, and Karl Kani — all of which are manned by Black designers or creative directors. All of the models featured in the story are Black. The portraits were shot against backdrops that look like church stained-glass windows (some of the compositions have religious undertones to match) or against painterly backdrops of nature. This isn't the first time Turini has worn her support of #BlackLivesMatter on her sleeve — or her shirt. Last September, Turini was spotted in Pyer Moss' "They Have Names" T-shirt at New York Fashion Week. She also included some of Moss' pieces in this shoot.
Turini posted a photo on her Instagram of what she calls the "all black spread" — and garnered some very positive feedback on the project. "Black excellence! Reasons why I love and respect you Shiona. You're so unapologetically black and paving the way for blacks in the industry," one user commented. Another thanked Turini for making work that's "Unapologetically. Black."
"We have a black president, and that is a sign of progress in many ways, but we still read in newspapers every week about young black men because their bodies are in our streets," Wiley wrote in Paper. "There's significance in that and, as an artist, I have to negotiate a response that is at once critical but also curious about how this could change." Combining fashion and a strong statement about race could be a recipe for disaster, but it seems like Wiley and Turini found a thoughtful middle ground. Is this how you'd imagine #BlackLivesMatter being translated into a fashion shoot? Or would you rather a racially and politically charged topic be kept entirely separate from polished, glossy imagery?