Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Obama and Vogue

“America ... is ready for a black president, so why are we not ready for a black model?”
-Italian Vogue editor Franca Sozzani

The July issue of Italian Vogue, dubbed the “Black Issue,” flew off the shelves and is now in reprints. This is the first magazine in Condé Nast’s history to be reprinted to satisfy demand; it’s also the first issue of Vogue to go into reprint. According to Young, Black, and Fabulous Vogue gave word to US distributors to “keep this All Black Issue on the stands until AFTER the November elections.” Apparently, Vogue feels that this will throw foreign support behind the Obama campaign here in America.

While Obama would definitely be our most fashionable President, I'm having a bit of a hard time seeing what one has to do with the other. I think Vogue, like a plethora of other media outlets (CNN’s “Black in America” anyone?), is capitalizing on the current fetishization and commodification of all things Black. While I think the July issue of Italian Vogue is a landmark moment in fashion history, I wonder what the long-term impact of the issue will be on the fashion industry. For instance, many advertisers still used white models for the ads in the July issue because they felt that Black models wouldn’t sell, even in an all Black issue. I hope that rather than mere pandering, industries like fashion, television, film and music will actually make some changes and actively challenge systems of white hegemony in the media.

Here's a YouTube clip with images from the July Vogue...

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