Opinion: Black or White?

The “blackface” issue has come up again. Within days of each other I saw supermodel Iman and Ebony Magazine post examples on Instagram:

The photos, from May’s Dutch Vogue are in a tribute spread to Marc Jacobs called “Heritage Heroes”;  models are dressed up in the style of Grace Jones and Josephine Baker.

It’s caused a huge debate, like Dolce & Gabbana’s use of blackamoor motifs (references to Africans and decapitation) in their Spring/Summer 2013 collection.

The fashion industry should be trying to improve its standards, not go backwards – in any aspect.

Maybe it was done simply for publicity, but whatever the intentions of Dutch Vogue – it’s unnecessary – because “blackface” is a visual reference to times when minstrel shows ridiculed black people with nasty racial stereotyping.

I appreciate when models are made up in all sorts of colours in spreads which are beautiful, creative works of art – but in this instance – black models could have been hired for a respectful tribute without controversy.


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