I just got a comment from a very upset reader calling this whole fashion job racist. I saw the editorial a couple of minutes ago and was in a totally different type of mood not wearing the intersectional critical eye (there is a lot going on here) - only the feminist eye (and yes I have these days too). There was a positive feeling over seeing something else than the ordinary high end style in a paper like Vouge where women mainly are ment to be beautiful objects by the norm, posing in ways where their body's look beautiful. And when I saw that the amazing Pat McGrath had done the make up and hair and Steven Meisel was the one who shoot it I just enjoyed all the creativity - at first.
Some background facts: English Pat is the woman behind the legendary Dior Make Up and she herself has a strong bond to mainly dancehall style (Is she black? Yes she's black. Does that make it less/more ok? But to make such entities matter when you critisizing the same way of labeling people is not un-problematic). In my book all her work is a homage that style, she's a master of seeing the beauty in things that are considered "tacky" in the mainstream consciousness.
I think what is most problematic is the context; Vogue Italia, cause in Vogue Italia this can be seen as a modern day mockering black face, because it's so different from other editorals in there so readers don't know how to react on something like this. To see this shoot in an edgier publication that understands the references and that honestly have a relation to it, would that be different? Maybe. If Meisel would have treated these outfits and styles in a different way, shooting them in a typical "high end" location, the outcome had been different too. (That's problem number two, at least when shooting it for a magazine such as Italian Vogue - that have a different brand)
What I also think is crucial is that for people in edgy style environments (where style is more about zeitgeist and less about looking good) this type of middle 90's style (think Gwen Stefani + Lil Kim + Jeremy Scoot latest collections) is coming back into Fashion while it's in other circles still is considered plain ugly---> which result in the concluson it must be mockery cause it's just "ugly".
I want to believe that we're a huge amount of people that neither can be described as only this or that, 2FACED1s, that will see this editorial in an other light, and just like Pat McGrath, have an honest relationship to this and can appreciate the beauty of it. These are the things we discuss in the 2FACED1 project, it's yes to salute other beauty norms than the existing one, but we have also the responsibility to understand and point it out when things get exploited or mocked on behalf of people who feel hurt by it. I'm really thankful for the reader who commented this (but there's ways to do things though); stereotypes are never the same they are re-invented and re-created. I will probably deepen this discussion later on, just gotta run for now. Please feel free to say what you think about this!
Our next 2FACED1 will touch upon this subject btw.
Ps. Seeing this from a European perspective, there are loads of 90s rave and Japan subculture references in this fashion job too.
Original post below:
Steven Meisel my friend, we will work together one day, maybe I'm not focused on editorials at the moment, but we will make it happen - don't you worry!
Refreshing add in Vouge Italia feat, great hair and make up signe Pat McGrath! (I'm still looking for great make up artists btw)
More update on Paris on it's way later tonight!