Saturday, August 18, 2012

Safety in Numbers

German Vogue assembles a stunning cast of black models for yet another tried and tested single ethnicity shoot for its September 2012 issue. Relative newcomers Grace Mahary, Cora Emmanuel, Jasmine Tookes, Jeneil Williams, Grace Bol and Zuri Tibby bedazzle in front of Greg Kadel's lens. Whilst I am delighted to see these black models being given the opportunity to showcase their beauty, this editorial leaves me begging the question, "Why?" Since Vogue Italia's groundbreaking "Black Issue" in July 2008, which featured an all-star cast of black models including Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede, Iman Abdulmajid and Karen Alexander, the opportunities for black models appear to have increased exponentially with a proliferation of new black models infiltrating the market. 

Zuri Tibby, Cora Emmanuel, Jeneil Williams, Jasmine Tookes,
Grace Bol & Grace Mahary
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Models.com's Top 50 models ranking however suggests a different story with only four black models; Joan Smalls, Jourdan Dunn, Anais Mali, and Ajak Deng scoring top spots in the list. Models of Asian descent fair a little better with Liu Wen, Fei Fei Sun, Sui He, Xiao Wen Ju, Shu Pei Qin, Tao Okamoto, and Wang Xiao making the cut. To me beauty is beauty, whether it be Black, Asian, Hispanic, Caucasian or a melange of all of the above. Therefore, I find it increasingly disheartening that all too often models of colour are afforded fewer editorial let alone advertorial opportunities as compared to their lighter skinned compatriots. 

I'll also put myself out on a limb by saying that I don't believe that single-race editorials do any favours for increasing the overall visibility of black models. As much as I adore Joan Smalls, I cannot recall the last time I saw another black model featured in an only-girl American Vogue editorial. This begs an even more important question - as one black model ascends to the upper echelons of the modelling ladder, why is it that incredible talents like Arlenis Sosa, Chanel Iman, Melodie Monrose, Rose Cordero, Shena Moulton, and Sessilee Lopez, are left to fall by the way side? I look forward to the day when I can open any issue of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, Love, V Magazine et al. to be greeted by editorials which have a more inclusive approach to the human race.

Grace Mahary
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Grace Bol & Jeneil Williams
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Zuri Tibby, Jeneil Williams & Jasmine Tookes
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Jeneil Williams
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Jasmine Tookes
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Zuri Tibby
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Grace Bol
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

Grace Mahary & Cora Emmanuel
German Vogue - September 2012
Photographer - Greg Kadel
Source - thefashionspot.com

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