Italian Vogue editor attacks lack of black models
by Shelley Emling
Kansas City Star
Alarmed by the lack of ethnic models on the catwalk, Vogue Italia will feature black models almost exclusively in its July issue.
“This idea came about as a reaction to the models of today,” said Franca Sozzani, editor of Vogue Italia, often called the most influential fashion magazine in the world. “I go to a fashion show, and every girl is blond and blue-eyed, and they all walk the same and look the same.
“I thought we needed to break away from this type of thing,” she said. ”There are so many beautiful black women not being used.”
Sozzani said the time also seemed right for the issue now that Barack Obama will soon become the first black nominee for president.
The July issue, which comes out next week, will feature a wide range of women of all ages and will include actors, models and singers such as Naomi Campbell, Tina Turner, Jody Watley and Iman.
Sozzani said the fashion industry was different in the 1980s and 1990s, when models had distinctive, individual looks.
“Then models did their own interpretations of the fashions they were wearing, but now the girls all look alike,” she said.
The lack of ethnic models in magazines and on catwalks has long sparked international criticism.
After hundreds of white models strutted their stuff at London Fashion Week earlier this year — and only a few blacks were included in the show — the British press asked whether racism was stalking the catwalk.
British designer Vivienne Westwood went so far as to demand a quota system so that fashion magazines would be forced to use more black models.
David Wolfe, creative director at Doneger Group, a New York fashion industry consultant, said that while there is a very small indication that more Asian models are being used in fashion shows, black models are still rare.
“Today Caucasian models — especially Russians and middle Europeans — are in the greatest demand, echoing the nationalistic preferences for Scandinavian models in the mid-century,” he said.