It seems there’s always so much press, uproar & hoopla when some crazy ass editor lacking creativity & vision decides to geniusly put White models in Black face in a by any means necessary desperate attempt to sell magazines, or when runways & Ad. campaigns lack color or melanin, but as we celebrate Black History month I would rather celebrate our global flyness. Black history is Africa, Black history is Asia, Black history is Australia, Black history is Europe, Black history is America-North, South, East & West –Black history is Global!
Joan Smalls: 2011: the new face of Estée Lauder, Gucci, H &M & Borriquena..Afro-Latino!!!
I love the new Burberry Spring 2011 Collection Ad. Campaign featuring what I call their new “Afropean” faces of London born Jourdan Dunn and French/ Senegalese Sacha M’Baye. Burberry is surely repping for Global Africa & the these two hotties are having the time of their lives being in high demand as the supermodels of this generation.
“Such is the heat around Dunn and the ethnic issue right now that, in an attempt to stave off accusations of inequality, both Italian and American Vogue have been fighting over her for their covers. Italian Vogue’s entire July issue has been shot with black models (the last time it featured one on its cover was 2002); American Vogue has also shot Dunn for its July edition. Incidentally, the last time British Vogue had a black woman (Naomi Campbell) on the cover was also in 2002. Doukas, who this year celebrates 21 years of Storm, says that when she first started out, there was plenty of diversity — not so now. “It’s ridiculous that we have so little diversity in our idea of beauty,” she says…In the 1960s and 1970s, ethnic women were much more visible in fashion. That was a time of exuberance and change; the time of the Black Power movement, the mantra “black is beautiful”, Roberta Flack singing Be Real Black for Me. This mood continued into the 1980s, with models such as Iman, Pat Cleveland and the young Campbell splashed everywhere… READ MORE
This year the those extraodinary supermodels who paved the way & made the world see just how beautiful Black was, is & can be were celebrated by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the world capital of New York City.
“In the annals of fashion smackdowns, few events have attained anything resembling the legendary status of the 1973 Grand Divertissement à Versailles. A stunt benefit ginned up by Eleanor Lambert, the publicist who invented the Best Dressed List, this fabled fashion show, promoted as a Franco-American collaboration, was always destined to be seen as a battle for dominance: the Old World slugging it out with the New, a muscular group of comers with Studio 54 as their shared point of reference taking on the fusty world of the haute couture…Hard as it may be to credit in an age of inclusion, the Grand Divertissement à Versailles was very nearly the first time that anyone in Paris had seen an African-American woman on a catwalk. Back in those early days, said Harold Koda, the curator in charge of the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, “an ethnic woman was someone who was southern European.” After the success of the Grand Divertissement, Mr. Koda added, it was not just American fashion that was on the ascendant but some starkly democratic New World beauty ideals….“What made our show different was that in Paris no one had ever seen a black model on a runway,” Oscar de la Renta said last week by telephone. And while there are those who might dispute the assertion (the designer Paco Rabanne, for one, employed black models in the 1960s), there is no arguing with contemporary reports that described the presence of black models as a major factor in the transformation of American fashion, which the French had derided as mass-produced goods, into a global force…” READ MORE
Zimbabwe’s Shingai of the Noisettes in Harper’s Bazaar
We have come a long way as Global Africans in fashion as both owners & contributors: whether it be as models, designers, hair stylists,make-up artists, stylists, editors or photographers. This month’s Vogue Italia dedicates a spread entitled “Black Allure” to today’s top Black models spanning the globe from Africa, to the Caribbean, to Europe, to America- north & south with its editor once again saying there is no issue with prejudice or racism in the fashion industry, even though the whole idea of a spread evoking the old stereotypical fantasy amongst Europeans of “Black Allure” with beautiful black women sophisticatedly dressed & lounging around in what looks like a high class brothel says otherwise & this gets overlooked because the beautiful imagery of sexy exotic Black women perfectly shot by famed Australian photographer Emma Summerton is very alluring to many all over the world both in celebration & exploitation. After all this is the same magazine that brought us the fashionably touted spread with famed photographer Stephen Meisel that was dubbed by the fashion industry as “Homeless Chic“. Any one that knows anything about the fashion industry knows that February & July publications are usually the thinnest books with the least advertisement & least sales, but I am sure it’s merely a coincidence that the past two so called forward thinking progressive editions of Vogue Italia in addressing the lack of Black models in their publications have been July 2008 & February 2011 . There’s a difference between gestures & progress, gestures are for the moment while progress is action that defines the ages of time.
“Other creative fields—visual arts, music, film, literature—seem to understand this. They wrestle with the complicated nature of race all the time, even as they also stumble. But the fashion community tends to play dumb or be disingenuous. It treats race like “a paint chip,” even while benefiting from the undercurrent of racial tensions that permeate our society. Recognizing the power of race—and the accompanying stereotypes—has led to some of fashion’s most glorious images. Part of what made the Polo Ralph Lauren advertisements featuring Tyson Beckford so compelling and groundbreaking was the contrast between Beckford’s mahogany complexion and the classic Waspiness of the clothes. The ads bucked a multitude of cultural clichés. Vogue also used assumptions about race and urban style to great effect when it photographed Sean Combs as an elegant Cary Grant figure for a couture story. The fashion bible bought into the subversive image that Combs had begun to craft of himself as a Hamptons-dwelling mogul who vacationed in St.-Tropez. And Liya Kebede, on the runway during Tom Ford’s reign at Yves Saint Laurent, expertly merged the “exoticism” of the brand’s past with the multicultural realities of the present…if you’re going to play with stereotypes, do it openly and honestly. After all, sometimes the culture needs to be challenged, even angered…” READ MORE
Frankly the idea of waiting for inclusion on runways & magazines whose core target market isn’t us is getting to be so passé & unfashionably Black, when we are well capable of creating the type of art & fashion that celebrates us just as beautifully, tastefully & powerfully as those who have long not necessarily excluded, but maybe just not targeted us. I think this is the big difference in the long overdrawn & often overblown argument about the lack of Blackness or color in general in mainstream fashion, film, TV, art etc. Instead of everyone running scared in order not to be labeled as prejudice or racist, why can’t we have a REAL conversations about the fact that this issue is based more on economics & the fact that these magazines are aspirational in target whereas just like Black people would like to see images of their reflection selling them products & aspirations, so do Asians, Caucasians, Latinos & everyone in between. What Vogue Italia‘s February 2011 issue has shown us is that the idea of Blackness is global with a market of millions to over a billion worldwide waiting to be served & it is up to publications like Ebony Magazine, Pop Africana, Arise Magazine & others to serve this vast market in a manner that their global aspirations & need for inclusion deserves. As John Henrik Clarke said “Black tells you how you look, it doesn’t tell you who you are“-It’s time to define who we are beyond just Black. 2011 has been declared by the United Nations as the International Year of African Descendants , so this is the year to be at our utmost global renaissance of creativity & shine in putting ourselves first by telling our own stories- by us for us-while bringing the world to us instead of the other way around, which is so 2010!
2011 is time to look to the future of global Africa with new faces in fashion from Africa’s Diaspora like Ana Bela, Joan Smalls,Corey Baptiste, Arlenis Sosa,Chanel Iman, Sessilee Lopez , Samantha Harris, Maya A. Lake, LaQuan Smith, Latisha Darling, & Rachel Roy or their African counterparts such as Duro Olwu, David Tlale, Bunmi Olaye, Korto Momolu, David Agbodji,Salieu Jalloh, Herieth Paul, Flaviana Matata, Georgie Badiel & so many others that it would take pages to list , which is absolutely a refreshing celebration of our global progress.
Pop Africana , the brainchild of Nigerian photographer & all around fashionista Oroma Elewa represents this new era of Global Africa that is unabashed about celebrating our global beauty with all the bells & whistles of high fashion, high art, high content & high fabulosity that is uniquely & authentically African. From Africa to her Diaspora there is greatness, creativity & beauty that has yet to be explored, discovered & recognized . We are in the middle of a new revolution of our global African evolution & I see the new faces of Africa to come. This is Our Time to Shine & to Celebrate our Global African Flyness! VIVA AFRICA!
Check out Oroma on Vogue Italia’s Vogue Black
wake up every day we complain
what could build us is around us
but we only think 2 plain
go too fast forget our pace,
important is money and running ur ratrace
the little things around u
could bring u joy if u see but
u are distracted by the world
yeh we are created in a beautiful way
yeh we are made by love and only love
love is time we invest
in the things that make us grow
just as love was the basis of
gods creation just as nature shows
no matter what trials and
tribulations u are going through
no matter how hard it seems,
how u live or how u look, yes yeh
u are made by the hands of god
u are so special and moulded with love