Italian Vogue‘s Awful New Blackface Editorial Will Fill You With Rage


Just a month after Italian Vogue was accused of racism for separating its black street style stars into their own “Black Vogue” section, the magazine has come under fire again for a far more overt misstep: A giant blackface editorial. Again.

For our latest installment of head-smacking awfulness, the editorial by Stephen Meisel features white model Saskia de Brauw painted in “warrior” paint and making aggressive faces while wrestling with taxidermied lions, goats, and other animals.

The Huffington Post’s Julee Wilson writes:

Not all the images portray Saskia in dark makeup, however the ones that don’t show the Dutch model painted in traditional African tribal markings. And the addition of the African animals doesn’t help matters.

Fashion just loves to dress a white woman in a pastiche of the costumes of a different culture to make her seem “exotic” and sell a bunch of obscenely expensive clothes.

We will never understand fashion’s adoration of blackface. No matter how many times designers, photographers, and magazines are called out for cultural appropriation and/or straight-up blackface editorials, they just keep doing it. This editorial, in the March 2014 edition of Italian Vogue, was shot by Stephen Meisel. Meisel is a respected industry veteran, not some 14-year-old art student trying to be “edgy” who doesn’t know any better. We can only assume at this point that fashion still thinks blackface is inherently cool for some reason, and we find it utterly bewildering.


Blackface is so pervasive in fashion that it has practically gone straight through “What the hell were they thinking” and into “Yawn, another fashion cliché.” It hasn’t actually gotten there yet, because we’re still shocked and appalled instead of bored by blackface editorials, but it seems like we see white models in blackface almost as often as we see florals for spring and models eating pasta.

Fashion seriously does this all the time, and no amount of our rage or negative press has any effect. The people producing these editorials know how much they offend people, they just don’t give a shit. We most recently saw inappropriate blackface in Vogue Netherlands, Numéro, and on the personal Instagram of Elle France’s beauty editor, and we are well sick of it.

It’s 2014. We should not still be seeing this kind of editorial in our fashion magazines.

(Photos: Vogue Italy)

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    • emily

      ugh HOW many times has italian vogue done this now? WHY don’t they get it?

    • tifygodess24

      Do other countries look at black face the way we do In this country?

      • patti livernash

        my uncle recently got a nearly new black
        Volkswagen Touareg SUV by working off of a pc… blog link J­u­m­p­9­9­9­.­ℂ­o­m

      • Jade-Yue-Ryu

        A VERY good question. Hmmmmm now I have a poignant question for my international friends.

    • Elizabeth Aspen

      PC people are always looking for something to complain about to make themselves look like saints and this is a perfect example of Americans always projecting our own guilt and sh!t onto others.

      I don’t see any “blackface” here. I see plenty of other colors on the faces, though. And even if they were doing full on minstral, I don’t know that it means the same thing in Italy as it does over here. I don’t know what their history of slavery is or if they’ve ever had it there. Blackface is always something Americans get riled up over, not other countries. It wasn’t the Mediterranean people who kidnapped and brought slaves over to America, so really, get all worked up if they do this in England, not Pasta World. Oh wait, was I just “racist”?