WHO Magazine has printed an apology to Melbourne Fashion Week (MFW) ambassador Adut Akech after it positioned an interview with the South Sudanese-Australian supermodel next to an image of Flavia Lazarus, a woman who is very much not Akech.
The Age reports WHO Magazine, which dropped the apology on the third page of its latest print edition, said the photo of African-Australian Lazarus was “provided to us accidentally” by MFW’s PR firm OPR.
The apology states the publication is “mortified by the misprint”.
Earlier, magazine staff personally apologised to both women after Akech used an Instagram post to say the mistake “would’ve not happened to a white model.”
“This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation,” Akech said, adding the error was especially egregious considering her interview addressed the treatment of refugees in Australia.
View this post on Instagram
I’ve have given some deep thoughts the past few days on how to approach this situation that isn’t sitting well with me. For those who are not aware, last week @whomagazine (Australia) published a feature article about me. In the interview I spoke about how people view refugees and peoples attitude to colour in general. With the article they published a large photo saying it was me. But it was of another black girl. This has upset me, has made me angry, it has made me feel very disrespected and to me is unacceptable and inexcusable under any circumstances. Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been disrespected too and it is why I feel it is important that I address this issue. Whoever did this clearly the thought that was me in that picture and that’s not okay. This is a big deal because of what I spoke about in my interview. By this happening I feel like it defeated the purpose of what I stand for and spoke about. It goes to show that people are very ignorant and narrowminded that they think every black girl or African people looks the same. I feel as though this would’ve not happened to a white model. My aim for this post is not to bash Who Magazine -they have apologised to me directly – but I feel like I need to express publicly how I feel. This has deeply affected me and we need to start an important conversation that needs to happen. I’m sure that I’m not the first person that’s experienced this and it needs to stop. I’ve been called by the name of another models who happens to be of the same Ethnicity, I find it very ignorant, rude and disrespectful towards both of us simply because we know that this doesn’t happen with white models. I want this to be somewhat of a wake up call to people within the industry it’s not OK and you need to do better. Big publications need to make sure that they fact check things before publishing them especially when its real stories and interviews and not just some made up rumors. To those who work at shows and shoots it’s important that you don’t mix up models names. Australia you’ve a lot of work to do and you’ve got to do better and that goes to the rest of the industry
The issue has garnered international attention, given the fact Akech is the face of Vogue’s lauded September issue in the UK, Japan, Germany, and Italy, and currently fronts Vogue Australia’s digital edition.
The stuff-up also spurred a statement from Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp, who said “Adut is right, we need to do better.
“Respect for all people from all backgrounds is fundamental to our city and our culture.”
MFW kicked off yesterday, and hopefully won’t be marred by any more magazine missteps.