Posted on October 15, 2009

White Model Painted Black Lands Vogue in Race Row

Ian Sparks, Daily Mail (London), October 15, 2009

Vogue has been accused of racism for using pictures of a white girl who was ‘blacked up’ for a fashion shoot.

Dutch supermodel Lara Stone’s face and body were plastered in dark brown make-up for a feature in this month’s edition of the fashion bible.

Other pictures in the 14-page spread show her face caked in what looks like white clay, while she wears a series of bizarre hats and face masks.

The text accompanying the images in the magazine’s French edition gives no hint as to why the 25-year-old model’s skin was darkened.

A brief introduction merely mentions that the poses reveal Miss Stone’s ‘sense of humour’, adding that her curvy figure marks a break from the trend of ‘anorexic models’.

It goes on to describe her somewhat cryptically as: ‘A real woman in body and in character for whom the pleasure–like the sense–of metamorphosis is not the least of qualities.’

The pictures received mixed feedback on internet fashion blogs.

U.S. website Jezebel branded the magazine’s editor Carine Roitfeld and photographer Steven Klein as ‘culturally insensitive’ for publishing them.

It wrote: ‘What Klein and Roitfeld should know is that painting white people black for the entertainment of other white people is offensive in ways that stand entirely apart from cultural context.’

In a reference to the furore caused last week by blacked-up contestants on an Australian TV talent show, it added: ‘France and Australia may not have the United States’ particular history of minstrel shows but something about the act of portraying a white woman as black ought to sound an alarm, somewhere.’

French anti-racism group SOS Racisme described the pictures as ‘tactless’.