This 10-page Italian Vogue editorial from February of 2006 features two Caucasian models, made up to look like black women. This is the works of fashion photographer Steven Klein, who has the tendency to do some strange things.
Other than his usual themes involving sexual violence and power in his works, Klein likes to change models' skin tones with makeup, according to Jezebel:
In September, 2008, American Vogue printed an editorial that featured the white Brazilian model Caroline Trentini painted the color of burnt Cheetos; earlier this year, in some work for Vogue Paris, Klein had Dutch model Lara Stone posed with male models who were made up alternately in a deep tan, presumably to contrast with her very fair skin, or in matte yellow and red. This month, of course, it is Stone whom Klein photographed in blackface.
Thus, emerges the issue of racism and how white female bodies are "racially unmarked," says a post in Racialicious. While temporarily turning white women into black women doesn't prove any sort of diversity, it only demonstrates that white people are allowed to play with racial categories - those that "people of colour" are generally unable to.
In an essay, Elizabeth Gates says she isn't surprised by Steven Klein's photography and Carine Roitfelds editorial choices: "I would be fooling myself if I thought the draftsmen behind fashion's most beautiful things were ever going to be sensitive to race, black women, or how they represent our cultural history."
Anne Slowey of Elle also admits: "It's an industry filled with people who have no idea about history and politics."
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