Another month, another questionable, racially charged moment in fashion. This time, repeat offender Vogue Italia has featured a model in blackface and tribal paint in its March 2014 issue (yes, in 2014). While not the standard offensive minstrel blackface that the magazine has employed before, the images — which were photographed by Steven Meisel — feature a Dutch model, Saskia De Brauw, in traditional African tribal body paint, posing with taxidermied safari animals and making grotesque faces. The level of appropriation here zooms right past fashion into the realm of the truly unsettling. Dodai Stewart at Jezebel sums it up eloquently:
Fashion falls back on this narrative again and again: In the minds of the fashion editors, a white woman becomes more interesting, edgier, and more stylish when appropriating another culture. Geisha robes, Native American headdresses, “tribal” ensembles — they’ve all become shortcuts to telegraph chicness.
You know what also telegraphs chicness? Interesting fashion styled in original, creative, and inoffensive ways.