Yesterday, a video of Japanese Vogue editor Anna Dello Russo hit the internet, in which she goes about her business styling top model Crystal Renn for a shoot in the glossy’s October issue. In it, you can plainly see fashion types placing tape near the corners’ of Renn’s eyes to stretch them out.
More than a few bloggers found the move offensive. Refinery29′s Connie Wang asked, “Does it matter if it’s two white ladies making an editorial for primarily Asian women?” and Styleite’s Julia Rubin compared it to fashion’s romance with blackface.
See for yourself:
I may have missed something here (or, for the first time ever, I’m not reacting out of bitterness for fashion’s shameful treatment of race) but I’m not completely convinced they were simply trying to make Renn look Asian. Now, sure, she’s posing for Japanese Vogue which has a huge Asian readership, but… she’s dressed as an androgynous matador. It seems plausible to wonder if the eye tape is there to flatten the arch of Renn’s famed brows and by doing so, make her face less feminine. If this shoot was for, say, Turkish Vogue, I wouldn’t have considered the eye tape to be much different in kind than false eyelashes or a wig.
That said, usually when there’s any doubt as to the racial undertones of a fashion spread, one should always assume the answer is: whichever is the most barbaric and offensive. And at the end of the day, they’ve given a white model “squinty” eyes for a spread in an Asian fashion magazine.
What do you think?