Last Updated on 25th June 2008
From Vogue Italia’s recent all black issue to the “Is Fashion Racist?” article that appeared in American Vogue’s July issue, it appears that the fashion industry has finally decided to stir the sleeping dog from its slumber.
No one denies the existence of fashions’ racial undertones, but cause and effect leaves me racking my mind as to who is at the crux of this bias. Is it the designers, the photographers, the casting agents, or echoing the sentiments of Steven Meisel, is it us, the consumer?
Earlier in the year, Grammy award winning singer, Erykah Badu, was earmarked by Ford to be the face of his then unknown new fragrance and my word are the pictures stunning. For a virtual amateur, Badu poise is gripping and very reverent of Diana Ross in her first ever spread (shot by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott) for a high fashion ad campaign. To me, Ford’s decision to team up with the African American songstress who has no real working résumé in high-end fashion is a step in the right direction for achieving diversity in an industry wrought with allegations of racial prejudice.
Gladly humor can still be conjured up amid all this debate as Badu, at a press conference (see video below), quipped at Ford’s approach to marketing his previous fragrance, Black Orchid, and the current White Patchouli. If you recall, in classic risqué Tom Ford fashion, a Caucasian model was seductively strewn on a bed alongside the Black Orchid perfume, but this time around an ebony-hued Badu is captured provocatively cupping the White Patchouli bottle.
The new ads for Ford’s scent will be popping up in fashion and lifestyle magazines this coming September. Funnily enough, Badu’s full lips and the jazzy mane of hair she’s sporting in the ad are quintessential forms of black beauty, but harking back to Meisel’s conversation with Cathy Horn of The New York Times, I guess Tom Ford is not too worried about consumers resisting White Patchouli. I know I won’t be…