Vogue Italy July 2008 Black Issue

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It’s not everyday you come across a fashion spread of 100 plus pages in a single magazine issue.
Fashion goes beyond white. Vogue Italy decided to show the world how a black issue is made and with whom. Except the cover-girls (Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez, Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell) you can also find from Alek Wek to Tyra Banks, all pictured in a color statement spread that has taken the world by storm.

Not trying to set a particular trend, but hoping to make people react to a mere physical reality, Vogue Italy Black Issue could, however, kick start a colored catwalk for the next fashions shows. (there are some of Naomi’s pictures from this Vogue’s issue after the cover picture)

Lyia Kebede Sessilee Lopez Jourdan Dunn Naomi Campbell Vogue Italy July 2008 Cover

Personally I always found diversity blissful, especially when talking runway. And if they stubbornly avoid colored models, they should also label their products “White people only”. It’s sad but true. And even if they’ll call it coincidence or pure hazard, it’s a lie. There’s nothing hazardous about this industry.(click thumbnails for larger pictures)

Naomi Campbell Vogue Italia All Black Issue July 2008 Photo

Naomi Campbell Vogue Italy All Black Issue July 2008 Pictures Naomi Campbell Vogue Italy All Black Issue July 2008 Naomi Campbell Vogue Italy All Black Issue July 2008 Photos

Speaking of hazardous – Naomi’s spread (by Steven Meisel) looks everything but objective to me. I may not be in measure to comment in fully conscience and I hope some of the readers who know better will help me with some cultural facts: these pictures don’t impress me in a fashion way at all. Is there something special about a black half naked woman surrounded by cookies that makes fashion ring in crystal ways?


#1 Ellington on 07.11.08 at 5:19 pm

Thanks for posting this Kpriss!
I think that it is a well done and timely presentation of the Vogue brand. Its time for a realistic presentation of the diversity of beauty in different peoples.
This magazine is a long time coming and long over due and I hope to see more its ilk reflecting other beautiful women who are Black, Asian and Native American to name a few.
This issue might create a positive discourse!
Oh and just an aside; Black people do not like being referred to as coloured.

#2 Adriana on 07.12.08 at 5:54 am

I’ve said already enough about the all black model Vogue Italia July. But sometimes enough isn’t just enough. My fear is that this is a politic correct statement. Its a long time going on now that we can read everywhere on blogs and forums when a change is gonna come. Statements made by all kind of people, race, colour, sizes you name it. Maybe Vogue has picked it up? So let’s hope this issue creates a positive discourse.
First thing I don’t understand that they have made four covers. Four covers for one summer issue? Why didn’t they spread this four covers over the year? Wouldn’t that have made four great covers? Though for me they could have chosen someone else for La Naomi but that aside…..the photo on the poole table looks to me more like a nice one for a male magazine instead of fashion magazine by the way.
I live in a multi-cultural society so I do realise how we are in need for a more realistic presentation of the diversity of beauty off all kinds.
Maybe I’m a pessimist, a defeatist but I don’t see things change overtime soon….though I keep up my hopes!

#3 kpriss on 07.12.08 at 8:20 am

I sincerely hope it will create if not a trend at least some conscience in the eyes of the fashion industrials.

Ellington, I was referring to color as being the opposite for the current white catwalks. And color is diversity to me more than a skin matter. Of course I’m sorry if this is potentially offending, it’s a word meaning a lot to me, far beyond the pigment matter.

Adriana, it was one of my questions too. Especially since it wasn’t even a four different covers issue – it was (to my understanding) a four spread-out single cover. Reporting that to a 12 issues year, it’s really not a conscience/trend matter for Vogue. It’s just go there, do that kind of attitude. Like let’s do it and get rid of it and then get back to our (white) business. I guess time will tell, right?

Ellington, I was curious (like Adriana noticed) – the poses from the Naomi’s spread (I chose only those I found most intriguing).. are they fashionable? In what precise ways do they show Naomi’s beauty? (to me it’s more like she’s offering herself…)

#4 Ellington on 07.13.08 at 1:06 pm

It can be a great point of contention, the way someone or something is presented. It can be looked at in terms of concept and context.
Also the idea that Black women (and women in general) are presented and displayed for the male gaze, for appropriation of their fantasies.
It is such a loaded discussion…
Then there are those who might be unhappy that there are not enough darker skinned Black models represented.
I am happy that this issue came about and I want to see it as a positive progress. Time will tell if this was simply a flash in the pan.
As for Naomi’s shots, she would still look lovely in a trash bag covered in mud, but I don’t know if that would be considered fashionable.
Oh and Kpriss ,I now understand how you were using the word coloured. I am not offended and I appreciate your clarification.
I am happy that we all have this forum to check things out and discuss things, so thank-you for that. : )

#5 JG on 07.14.08 at 1:57 pm

Naomi is grogeous and remains beautiful unlike her unacceptable behavior. As a fan I still love to see her pictured. I am trying to purchase Vogue Italia in SE Florida and will order it on line if necessary. However, the few photos I viewed online are artistically terrific though the lack of darker hued black women was notable and missed! Congratulations to Vogue Italia for taking a stand. I hope to see far better representation of black models and other minorities on the cover of every fashion magazines and throughout their pages since we purchase these magazines too!! Otherwise they can look forward to cancellation of my subscriptions to Vogue USA and Elle Magazine. JG, Florida USA

#6 Diva on 07.27.08 at 9:28 pm

I think that it is great that Vogue is celebrating black women. I hope that other magazines began using more black models as well as women of minority groups.To often when you turn of the TV or open a magazine you only see one image of beauty. Beauty knows no color and it is time that women of all color get a far representation in the media.

#7 kpriss on 07.31.08 at 5:50 am

I imagine it’s a minefield, but I wanted to express what the pictures meant to me. I do it with every single image passing before my eyes, so I didn’t wanted to let go now.

Speaking of dark skinned Black models – I saw Alek Wek in Paris. I mean in person. I mean a shoulder away from me. And I was amazed of how beautiful she really is. And graceful.

JG – it seems they had such an overwhelming success with this Black Issue that they decided to reedit it. So I think you’ll have the chance to find an issue with your name on! Good luck!

Diva, that’s what we’re all hoping for and hopefully initiatives like this one won’t go unfollowed! The least they could do is acknowledge the reality – that black equals success.

#8 Badiane on 08.11.08 at 10:04 am

I have already placed this comment on another page on this site.

Up until now the women of African ascendence around whom I’ve been reared are definitely not represented in major media and what I see is only a small percentage of women who for all intents and purposes have characteristics which are non afro.

It’s all absurd. In order to work one must accept the absurd bases in which it depends and then to be valuable, the absurdity must be denied.

A massive denial of the self for a genetically impossible ideal is bound to create some massively detrimental psychosis in an individual.

I’ve had a hard time with women I’ve dated who believe that if the characteristics of their hair which references their “negritude” are not removed they can’t be “beautiful.” The day that we’ll have a kit which allows a woman of African ascendence to remove her melanin in an unstigmatized way (the way weaves are simply accepted when a few years before they were frowned upon), they will rush to have it done. Some may find that offensive but I’m not into PC. When I walk into a Haitian beauty store and I see the plethora of skin lightening product or to have to hunt down the bottles, tubes and jars of skin lightener of some of my friends or to hear Hatian males talk of a “bel fanm (beautiful woman)” to come to see that she’s light skinned and has “good hair (since natural hair is stigmatized as being bad), I can’t help fell that I can no longer be PC, lest the self hatred spread more. To hear my sons grand-father tell his daughter that he was worried that the baby was going to remain “dark” and he’s relieved that he’s “lighter” now is disheartening. To hear kids think they are automatically better than others because they have non afro features is really sad.
So in the end, having a black issue is pointless if the main problem is not addressed. Self hatred.

#9 Ellington on 08.11.08 at 4:42 pm

Hello Badiane,
Your comments and arguments are better placed here, I think.
What you discuss is truly a loaded issue for many Black women and men. One thing that I have found learned and I am extremely grateful for is this: We as Black people come in a plethora of shades, with different facial features and hair types. I think it is beyond beautiful and I celebrate it!
I see this Italian Vogue issue as a step towards better exposure and more open mindedness among Black people and to maybe show people of other melanin counts and cultures that Black is truly beautiful! I can only hope that this truth is recognized.

#10 Lulama on 08.14.08 at 5:12 am


What a great issue it is, Gone are the days where black was seen as being unpleasant and demonic. Thanx to Vogue for clearing the unacceptable steriotype. Im so dissapointed that Chanel Iman was not included i think she is the future of modelling. Naomi Campbell is still one of the most beautiful black models of our times. Like the fact that she isn’t a zero size……..Work it girl!!!!

#11 eleanor on 09.12.08 at 6:53 pm

kudos, Badiane, I was thinking the same thing.

I really want to get my hands on this issue… unfortunately, I didn’t realize it existed until Tyra Banks put it on her show yesterday.

If anyone knows of a good online source, could you leave a follow-up comment?

I’m sorta disappointed that the cover ladies have lighter skin and slender noses… I guess I haven’t seen the inside yet, but from the shots I’ve seen so far, it does kinda look like they focused on the skinny eurocentric black models…
I’ve been thinking about this alot since Tyra did the show the day before on women who bleach their skin.
It made me so sad… it’s not right that women feel like they need to do that to themselves…

#12 Natasha on 09.12.08 at 8:35 pm

I also just found out about this new Vogue the other day from watching the Tyra show. I think it’s a great leap for fashion, but we still have a long way to go. The women that I’ve seen so far put in the magazine are obviously gorgeous. They are known far and wide for their beauty. However, I was getting my hair braided while watching the Tyra show by a woman from Cameroon (in Western Africa). She was not impressed by this all-black Vogue issue at all. She stared at the women on the four covers on t.v., and said “None of them look like real black women, Tyra’s long hair isn’t even real!” I could see where she was coming from. To me, they all have the features of a white woman: slender nose, thin lips, long silky hair. The only difference they had from a white woman was their skin color, and none of them possessed the dark chocolate skin of a typical black woman. These black Vogue models are a result of what our society accepts black women to look like today.
Like I said before, this issue is a huge deal for the fashion world. But, regardless, if I ever see a black woman on the cover of Vogue or any other major fashion magazine with big, full lips, a wide nose, and most importantly, the soft, NATURAL hair which make up the very essence of a black woman, I will be highly impressed.

#13 Rob Schneider rules on 02.17.10 at 6:47 pm

The entire beautiy industry is screwed up – we all know this. Don’t expect things to improve. It’s about money, ladies – not cultural awareness. It’s hard not to but we have to try not to take it seriously since it is ultimately all about lining the pockets of business people.

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