6 Other Times Vogue Proved Itself Tone-Deaf To Appropriation

Tae Hong
Feb 15,2017
Supermodel Karlie Kloss in geisha garb in Vogue magazine.Supermodel Karlie Kloss in geisha garb in Vogue magazine.

Shocked at the Vogue’s latest (laughably titled) “diversity” issue, where we see blatant yellowface via supermodel Karlie Kloss in full geisha get-up?

The March issue in question features Adowa Aboah, Liu Wen, Ashley Graham, Vittoria Ceretti, Imaan Hammam, Gigi Hadid (who had a recent hiccup of her own) and Kendall Jenner on the cover.

The problem, of course, is inside the magazine, titled “Women Rule!” — six pages of Kloss as a geisha, complete with a sumo wrestler and a tea house set.

“These images appropriate a culture that is not my own and I am truly sorry for participating in a shoot that was not culturally sensitive,” Kloss wrote on her Twitter Wednesday. (Kloss was under fire a few years ago for wearing a Native American-style headdress on the runway.) “My goal is, and always will be, to empower and inspire women. I will ensure my future shoots and projects reflect that mission.”

The influential publication has a long history of cultural appropriation — take a look at some of its troubling incidents:


1. Vogue France, 2009

(Vogue France)(Vogue France)

We saw Dutch supermodel Lara Stone in blackface across 14 pages, under the direction of Steven Klein and Carine Roitfeld.


2. Vogue Italy, 2011

(Screenshot of Vogue Italy website)(Vogue Italy website)

A pair of gold hoop earrings were labeled “slave earrings” on a web feature. Here is the description provided: “If the name brings to mind the decorative traditions of the women of color who were brought to the Southern United States during the late 18th century, the latest interpretation is pure freedom.” (Worse? It later changed the name to “ethnic earrings.”)


3. Vogue Netherlands, 2013

(Vogue Netherlands)(Vogue Netherlands)

In the name of honoring the work of Marc Jacobs with Louis Vuitton, the magazine put another white model, Querelle Jansen, in blackface and styled her based on African American icons like Josephine Baker and Grace Jones.


4. Vogue Italy, 2014

(Vogue )(Vogue Italy)

We saw Dutch model Saskia de Brauw with darkened skin and “African-inspired” headdresses in an editorial called “Abracadabra.”


5. Vogue Australia, 2014

(Vogue Australia)(Vogue Australia)

Brazilian model Marina Nery appeared with darkened skin, and dressed like an indigenous Australian, in a shoot by Sebastian Kim.


6. Vogue Korea, 2014

(Vogue Korea)(Vogue Korea)

Girl group 2NE1, one of K-pop’s most popular, filled the pages in garb inspired by “African ethnic girls.” No different from Kloss dressing up like a geisha.

Vogue sure has an interesting idea of diversity.

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