Gigi Hadid and Vogue Italia have apologised for a blackface controversy that could have easily been avoided if just one person of colour had been on the creative team to say, “Uh, guys? Not a good look”.
Here’s the look:
Yes, that’s Gigi Hadid, even if it doesn’t look very much like her. According to Gigi, the brief for famed fashion photographer Steven Klein was to “show me in a different way creatively”, but that didn’t actually mean to change her ethnicity entirely.
Case in point: here’s a recent and incredible shoot Klein did with Kim Kardashian and North West, showing her as style icon and former First Lady Jackie Onassis. It’s a new look, but – shockingly – not racist. (Some of the criticism absolutely was, though.)
People – and we stress, #NotAllPeople, because there’s plenty missing the point and saying dumb stuff like, “you think that’s bad? you should see me after using my Bondi Sands Ultra Dark”– accused the magazine of engaging in blackface when it could have actually used a darker skinned model.
Following the controversy, both Vogue’s publisher Conde Nast and Gigi apologised for it, the latter even posting a paparazzi pic from the day of the shoot, showing the extent to which she had been bronzed.
“Please understand that my control of a shoot 1. is non existent in terms of creative direction 2. ends completely when I leave set, and anything done to a photo in post is out of my control fully,” she wrote, in a message posted to both her Twitter and Instagram story.
“The bronzing and photoshop is a style that S. Klein has done for many years and I believe was what was expected from the shoot (to show me in a different way creatively), BUT, although I understand what Vogue Italia’s intentions were, it was not executed correctly, and the concerns that have been brought up are valid.
“I want to address this for those who were offended by the editing / retouching / colouring of the cover. Please know that things would have been different if my control of the situation was different.
“Regardless, I want to apologise because my intention is never to diminish those concerns or take opportunities away from anyone else, and I hope this can be an example to other magazines and teams in the future.
“There are real issues regarding representation in fashion – it’s our responsibility to acknowledge those issues and communicate through them to work towards a more diverse industry.”
Vogue Italia also sent out the same apology as Conde Naste, apologising for the misstep and explaining that the brief was to create a “beachwear-themed story with a stylised bronzing effect”. (IDK about you, but I, too, wear a full glitter bodysuit and tiara to the beach. It’s FASHION, baby.)
“We understand that the result has caused some debate with our readers, and we sincerely apologise if we have caused any offence,” it said.
It’s not the first time Vogue Italia has toes the culturally appropriate line with Gigi Hadid; several years ago it came under fire for shooting the supermodel in a series of Afros.
Klein has to comment on the situation, but we’ll keep you posted.