Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Islandistas in Italian Vogue's all-black issue

(photo credit: New York magazine)

So every fashionista worth a damn has been buzzing about Italian Vogue's all-black issue which came out this week.

We all know how hard it is to find women of colour in the fashion industry - whether on the runways or in the editorials. And there has been a lot of debate and hand-wringing about it in recent times. Everyone agrees it's terrible but no-one quite seems to know where to point the finger... perhaps because they are trying to make sure it's not aimed at them. Is it the editors? Is it the designers? Is it the advertisers? Is it the readers?

Anyhow, Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani and photographer Steven Meisel got together and decided now was the perfect time to make a real statement about this. Sozanni was fascinated by the candidacy of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama (can we claim him as an islandisto since he was born in Hawaii? :) I mean it's not the Caribbean but still...) and Meisel had long been frustrated with running up against brick walls when he would push black models for shoots.

So they did the damn thing with several islandistas making the cut. Naomi Campbell (of Jamaican parentage) of course led the charge, as one of four models on the fold-out front cover. Fellow Brit and suspected islandista by extraction (I am so sure this girl is of Caribbean parentage or grand parentage - black, British, with an Anglo last name? Sounds like a West Indian to me but being that she's relatively new on the scene I have not found any confirmation as yet) Jourdan Dunn is also featured on the cover.

Jamaican model Jeneil Williams (of Caribbean fashion powerhouse Pulse) is on the inside.

Personally, I think the editors of American, British and French Vogue in particular should HANG THEIR HEADS in shame that the editor of Italian Vogue beat them to this. After all, Italy has a black population of less than 1% whereas the USA, the UK and France all have significant black populations. Why should Italian Vogue have been the first one to confront this ugly issue when these editions all have much larger black populations?


  1. "Italian Vogue's all-black issue is unlikely to be emulated by its US sister magazine, however. As a gesture, American Vogue will this month run an article about the lack of black models."

    I can think of a few places to stick that gesture

  2. Whatever happened to Suede magazine. I loved that, and I am white. Elle was one of the first magazines to show lots of women. Vogue should have done this 20 years ago.