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Black is Beautiful: Italian Vogue's Black Issue Hitting Stands Soon

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Photo via WSJ:

Of course, it's big news that Italian Vogue is devoting an entire issue to Black models, an edition which will be filled with the industry's heavy-hitters and rising stars. Per the Wall Street Journal

"The magazine's July issue, which arrives in Italy this Friday and the U.S. next week, features nearly 100 editorial pages of the world's top black models, including Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell. Modeling agent Bethann Hardison, who is behind much of the recent diversity-awareness efforts in the industry, contributed to a feature on 10 up-and-coming black models. Celebrity photographer Steven Meisel shot the spreads."

Like Donatella Versace being inspired by a Barack-type man for her spring '09 collection, "Italian Vogue editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani says the issue was inspired in part by Barack Obama—'If America is ready for Obama, why won't they be ready for black models?' she asks. Also important were her dismay at last season's mostly white runways, and complaints from models like Ms. Campbell." Sozzani told the pub, "I thought maybe we should make a change."


Photo via WSJ

The question is whether this "change" will be just for this issue or will have any lasting effects. Sozzani hopes for the latter: "We're not looking to start a trend. We think this could be a normal thing—to use a white girl [or] black girl without any difference...When we shoot Naomi [Campbell], we don't care that she's white, black or yellow. She's just Naomi."

While "fashion insiders are cautiously optimistic," others question the idea of putting Black models together in a single issue "not integrated with any other races." A media analysis professor at University of Pennsylvania, John L. Jackson, Jr. warns "The danger is that all [the editors] have done is find a different way to single out the difference of European beauty, by marking off these racialized bodies in their own special issue."
· Race on the Runway [WSJ]