London, We Have A Problem.
Feb 15 2016
I was perusing the March edition of British Vogue this weekend and I came to one rather sad conclusion.
If there is any diversity to speak of in the pages of the magazine, it is largely thanks to the growing diversity displayed in brand adverts. Indeed, the adverts for Chanel, Celine, Ralph Lauren, Valentino, Moschino, Balmain, Issey Miyake, Stuart Weitzman and Prada (yes, even Prada) all feature at least one woman of color. By contrast, the magazine's four fashion editorials, over 50 pages worth of photography, are entirely white.
For whatever reason, the absence of racial diversity in the pages of British Vogue continues to shock me, more so than in the other Vogues. Perhaps it's because each time I go to London, I'm reminded of just how richly diverse the city is. In fact, I would argue that of the world's four major fashion capitals, it is by far the most racially and culturally diverse of the lot even surpassing New York City. Street style photographs bear witness to this. So, why do the editorial pages of British Vogue remain so stubbornly white when British society is anything but?
To be fair, there is one model of color featured in the March edition of the magazine but she is relegated to the Vogue Shops and Vogue Spy features (the same woman appears in both features). One more appears in the Vogue Beauty pages but the image consists of a look taken from the Moschino Spring 2016 show. The magazine's editorial section however, the back of the book where a magazine's editor-in-chief expresses a point of view and exerts her influence, has not one woman of color in sight. Not one.
Perhaps this state of affairs would not be so galling had Alexandra Schulman, the magazine's editor-in-chief, not uttered the following statement during an interview:
"All the Vogues—and I believe there are 19—have separate identities that cater to the country where they are produced. We are more idiosyncratic and diverse than American Vogue, and more mainstream than French or Italian. We have to sell a large number of copies, and so the magazine is designed to appeal to a range of readers rather than only fashion fans. We have a lot of interviews and arts coverage and social observation pieces. I like to think that we are a magazine of record, and when you look back it will show the culture and society we live in and not only the clothes we wear."
If Ms. Shulman were to peer over the gilded parapet of British Vogue from time to time, she might notice that her magazine doesn't in fact reflect the current state of British culture and society at all. Not even a little bit. If a major title such as British Vogue is this out of touch with the culture and society it serves, then I believe it may be ripe for a shake up. I suggest they start at the top.
The Luxe Chronicles