Vogue Italia Responds To Backlash Over Its Latest Cover

Update: After taking heat for their May cover, Vogue Italia has responded to backlash claiming that its latest cover star is wearing blackface. The magazine posted its logo to Instagram with a note explaining their stance on creating fashion imagery that sacrifices diversity and inclusion for creativity and artistic control.
"Throughout its history, Vogue Italia has respected and encouraged the creative viewpoints of commissioned photographers," they wrote, referring to photographer Steven Klein's habit of bronzing (or perhaps over-bronzing) white models. "In our latest cover shoot ... the vision was to create a beachwear-themed story with a stylized bronzing effect. We understand that the result has caused some debate with our readers, and we sincerely apologize if we have caused any offence [sp]." The comments are split.
The official statement follows Gigi Hadid's — who stars on the cover alongside Justin Martin and endured the brunt of the criticism — in which she explained that she has no say in the art or creative direction of a photoshoot, and that when she leaves the set, the final product is entirely out of her hands (which is true). Hopefully this serves as the last example that fashion, as fantastical and imaginative as it can, and sometimes should, be, it should reflect what's socially acceptable in real life, too.
This article was originally published on May 3, 2018.
It's 2018: Why are we still seeing blackface? That's the question we asked ourselves Wednesday when we saw that Vogue Italia shared a sneak peak on Instagram of its May cover, featuring Gigi Hadid. That the 23-year-old model was shot for the magazine was nothing new. But we have to admit, Hadid looked a little...different. Although the Steven Klein-lensed image evokes Vogue Italia’s expectedly edgy aesthetic — and Hadid looks regal in a sequined Dolce & Gabbana jumpsuit — commenters were quick to call out how noticeably darker her skin appeared to be. And we think they have a point.

It’s Queen Gigi on the cover for @vogueitalia ❤? #DGWomen

A post shared by Dolce & Gabbana (@dolcegabbana) on

“Not that @gigihadid is not a beautiful powerful model and not that it is not a nice cover... but as you wanted to have a darker skin model shouldn’t you have just chose a dark skin model ??‍♂️” @youssefbouabid posted on the magazine's Instagram account. User @liamliangli was also upset, writing: “I would say this is a new low for Vogue Italia...pretty sure there are much more models who deserve this more than she does. And the photoshop lol…” But the question of whether or not this is considered blackface is incredibly valid — and a claim that isn't foreign to either Vogue Italia or Steven Klein.
In 2006, Vogue Italia published a 10-page spread featuring two white models who were made to look like Black women. (Klein was also the photographer). For its November 2015 issue, Steven Meisel photographed Hadid wearing an afro wig; her skin was darkened with so much bronzer that she looked Black (sound familiar?). Either way, it feels like after that backlash — and when you factor in the fashion’s industry’s continued issue with racial diversity — all parties involved (Hadid included) should know better. Blackface still carries an incredibly hurtful and damning stigma, and why the fashion industry still doesn’t understand that is beyond us.
As a result of the criticism, Hadid chose to delete the image of her latest cover on Instagram. In its place, she issued an apology for the photos on her Stories, noting that her "control of a shoot...is non existent in terms of creative direction." She also recognized that "there are real issues regarding representation in fashion, and that "it's our responsibility to acknowledge those issues and communicate through them to work towards a more diverse industry."

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